New Raleigh hotel to honor history of neighborhood’s Black founders

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Friday, August 4, 2023 10:39PM

New Raleigh hotel to honor history of neighborhood's Black founders

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — In the middle of Raleigh’s retail-centric Village District where the old K&W cafeteria once stood, the city’s newest hotel will rise. It’s being billed as a boutique hotel under Hilton’s Curio Collection. The developer, Quality Oil Company, plans to call it The Oberlin Hotel.

“I was introduced to the vice president of operations from Quality Oil about three years ago,” said Sabrina Goode, executive director of Friends of Oberlin Village.

Quality Oil executives first reached out to Goode in 2020 to gauge community feedback. She said she was hesitant at first; wary the development would intensify gentrification of this 165-year-old historically Black community that remains as North Carolina’s lone-surviving intact settlement founded by freed Black people in the years after slavery.

Goode pressed the developer to name the hotel, the Oberlin — a nod to the name handed down from her ancestors.

“I was glad that they did,” she said. “Because there’s so many properties that are building along Oberlin Road and they’re using names of what typically are quite privileged communities as if they’re trying to rebrand Oberlin. So we feel honored.”

In addition to the name, the Winston-Salem-based developers are promising to decorate the 7-story 153-room hotel with artwork, sculpture, and descriptions of the notable Black figures who built the neighborhood and helped build the city.

Quality Oil CEO Graham Bennett said in a statement, “These folks made a lasting impact on Raleigh and the entire country because of what they achieved. And we think this special hotel will honor them and the Oberlin name.”

Goode said her conversations with Quality Oil continue, pledging to hold developers accountable to the promises.

“They seem very curious. And we are in discussions and I’m hopeful. I always take people at their word and have hope and trust,” she said. “I am faithful. And I will remind (Bennett) of his words. And I think if his words change, you will hear a change (from us).”

The hotel project comes as housing prices in Oberlin Village have surged. Goode still has big concerns about the rise in property taxes for families who’ve been there since it was an all-Black neighborhood.

Construction on the Oberlin is set to start later this month.

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