Residents Fear Dave & Buster’s and Other Rumored Buyers
Raleigh’s most iconic motor lodge is officially for sale, and Mordecai residents are terrified. Our new investigative reporter, James Borden, brought this story to my attention in his first Development Beat earlier this week. The 19-bedroom, 14-bathroom Gables Motor Lodge property is listed for $1.5 million and is located in the Mordecai neighborhood, right outside of downtown Raleigh. Most importantly, it’s in the Broughton school district. Rumors are already circulating about prospective buyers, including:
La Quinta Inns & Suites, who would continue to operate the facility, but would bring the current 4-star rating down to a 1-star.
Dave & Buster’s, who are looking to expand into the Raleigh market after seeing success in Cary.
Mark Wahlberg, who plans to open a Wahlburgers Food Hall to complement the Wahlburgers restaurant coming to downtown Raleigh.
Big Lots, who plans to to build a “Mini-Big Lots” concept, similar to the new mini-Target coming to Hillsborough Street.
Apple, who is considering moving an iPhone manufacturing facility to North Carolina if HB2 is repealed.
Since my media empire is expanding, I considered buying the property to use as an office. Like any good real estate mogul, I figured I would need to win the residents over. So last night I attended an emergency Mordecai neighborhood meeting to discuss the rumored buyers. The level of outrage ranged from “ugh, the wait at Capital Club 16 brunch is 10 minutes” to “OMG a chain restaurant is coming to Fayetteville Street!”.
“This just doesn’t sit well with me. My chakras feel out of balance,” said Cassandra Winston, a Trustafarian who owns Pastallations, an Etsy store that sells hand-made vegan pasta in the shapes of astrological signs.
“What if they put something modern there?! My cousin dealt with this same problem over in Oakwood, and it did NOT end well,” screamed Jill Wiesner, a Mordecai resident.
“What the hell is a Wahlburger?!? Is this fake news? What would that even pair with?” asked Jason Shaw, a local craft brewer who uses fresh soil instead of hops to create unique flavors of beer at Oak & Walter’s, a new micro-brewery coming to City Market.
While most residents expressed their fears, a few did offer solutions.
“I would approve of an Ashley Christensen restaurant that offered 19 different concepts on mac and cheese, one in each room,” said Jessica Sanders, a food blogger who only reviews mac and cheese dishes across the region.
“I’m a minimalist, so I’d really like to see the space used by designers of local micro-projects that will be consumed by less than 100 people. Once a project gets too popular it loses its integrity and authenticity,” said a resident who only goes by “Fitz” and describes himself as a local nano-influencer with a purposefully small Instagram following of 27 people.
An example of a micro-project by a nano-influencer.
I left the meeting dumbfounded. There was no way I was going to win these people over. I had my development reporter research what I could do with the property if I decided to buy it. Borden informed me that there are no specific protections in place preventing the future owners from tearing down and dividing the lots to build Cary McMansions.
At first we thought that since the Lodge is considered a “contributing resource” in Raleigh’s Mordecai Place Historic District that any changes would have to be approved by the Raleigh Historic Development Commission. OldPrivy on Twitter informed us that Mordecai is a National Register district, not a local historic district. That means that any changes to the property won’t have to be approved by anyone. We’ll be keeping a close eye on who buys the property.
More on the Gables Motor Lodge
From Borden: The two-story, gable-roofed Tudor revival style home was built by William and Ella Johnson as a boarding house/motel to cash in on the tourist traffic from Route 1. Mrs. Johnson ran the place until the 1940s, and eventually sold it to Charlie Griffin in 1965. Known as “Uncle Charlie”, Griffin continued operating the Gables Motor Lodge until he passed away in August of 2016. His great-nephew recently decided to list the property for sale.