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Reynolds Building could be converted into hotel

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The Reynolds building in Winston-Salem.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The owner of two upscale Greensboro hotels is exploring whether to build a hotel in Winston-Salem’s iconic Reynolds Building.

Dennis Quaintance with Greensboro-based Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels announced Thursday he is working with Reynolds American officials to figure out whether converting the 22-story building is worth it.

The proposal calls for an upscale hotel of between 120 and 200 rooms, as well as a restaurant and an event center.

It will take most of 2012 to analyze and make a decision, but both groups are optimistic, Quaintance said.

“(The project) takes into account not only the practical usage of the building but also its historic significance to the community and the role it might play in continued downtown development,” Quaintance said in a news release.

The building at the intersection of Fourth and Main streets opened in 1929 as the South’s first skyscraper. It is famously known as the prototype for the Empire State Building in New York City.

The building has been vacant since 2009, when Reynolds American moved to a larger building next door. The company wanted the next owner to preserve the building’s history and exquisite detail.

“We believe that this project meets all of that criteria, and we are exploring this with folks that are the best in the business,” said David Howard with Reynolds American.

The analysis will answer questions such as how much it would it cost to renovate the building, is it eligible for tax credits, and should Quaintance-Weaver buy or lease the building if it goes through with the plan.

“We are really sincere about wanting it to happen. RJ Reynolds wants it to happen, and it will happen if it is reasonable to happen,” Quaintance said.

Quaintance-Weaver owns two upscale hotels in Greensboro, O.Henry and Proximity. It also owns Green Valley Grill and Print Works Bistro in Greensboro, as well as the Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro and Cary.