The Cherry Hotel was constructed in 1921 and for decades was a focus of social life in Wilson, its ballroom on the ground floor being the venue for wedding receptions, parties, and proms for many years. Its proximity to the adjacent train station made it a logical stopping point for people taking the train from the U.S. northeast to Florida. We’ve also heard that Wilson was a destination for weekend trips from folks in the northeast, and it surely had many guests in town for tobacco auctions.
Like many hotels in the downtowns of small cities, the hotel declined concurrently with the tobacco market and population that migrated to larger cities, and it closed in 1984. The hotel was converted to Cherry Hotel Apartments by knocking out walls of adjacent hotel rooms, and these apartments served as home for those on subsidized rents under Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937. However, a later amendment to this act required apartments larger than the existing apartments, and the cost to increase the size of the apartments was not economically feasible, so the apartment building was closed around 2011.
The City of Wilson has received several Brownfield assessment grants from the U.S. EPA and have used their grants to facilitate redevelopment of properties, mostly in the downtown. The City used their grant for services conducted by Duncklee & Dunham at the former Cherry Hotel site when a developer expressed interest in reopening the hotel to take advantage of tax credits for restoring a historical building. We started by conducting a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment at the hotel in 2016 to determine if there were recognized environmental conditions that could be a hindrance to redevelopment and identified an underground storage tank (UST) that had been used to store fuel oil for the boilers. Duncklee & Dunham closed this UST by removal in 2018 and prepared a Notice of Residual Petroleum to close the regulatory file that resulted for leaked fuel oil. We conducted surveys for asbestos, lead-based paint, and mold of the interior, and during abatement, conducted clearance air monitoring on each floor.