HIGH POINT, N.C. — The fate of a historic hotel and a local business are intertwined, and the faster the first goes, the healthier the second will be.
The city of High Point has attempted to either tear down or rebuild the historic Kilby Hotel for the past year, but it sits in a worsening state of decay.
After a pedestrian called 911 on Oct. 13 to report strange sounds coming from the building, possibly meaning it was coming down, the city closed Washington Street.
Assistant City Manager Randy McCaslin said the city decided on the closure because of fears the building may collapse on passing cars or people.
“If the building fell, it could fall on Washington Street, and imagine if someone gets killed because it falls. The property owners get sued. The city gets sued. It’s safer to keep it closed.
There are few businesses left on that section of Washington Street, but one of them is a local staple called Mary’s and Becky’s restaurant.
The owners say they serve delicious soul food, and one sniff inside the door will confirm that to any normal nose.
With furniture market in town, this is the time of year Mary Frances Ingram and Dennis Ingram can look forward to a full house. But this year, the Kilby keeps the customers away.
More specifically, the closed street makes Mary’s and Becky’s tough to get to, and that’s bad for business.
“I don’t understand how they can just close the whole street off just because someone heard a little crack up the street. It’s affecting our business,” Dennis Ingram said.
Mary Ingram says locals disregard the barriers or walk to get their food, but the out-of-towners that may only visit once or twice a year may turn around due to their uncertainty.
“The customers come. They don’t know how to get all around these places. We’re losing business every day,” Mary Ingram said.
The city must wait on the approval of the Guilford County Historical Preservation Commission before it can bring the Kilby Hotel down. The Commission will hear the city’s argument Nov. 19. McCaslin said the street will remain closed until then.
“We’re currently trying to move that meeting up. They need 48 hours notice,” McCaslin said.
In the meantime, McCaslin said the city is looking into putting up signage to let drivers know that Becky’s and Mary’s Restaurant is open beyond the road closed signs.