The possibility that Hoffmann might lease space in this building to Downtown Greensboro Inc. has sparked some online conversation (see the comments here), ranging from accusations of crony capitalism to calmer questions about an elected official doing business with an entity funded in some part by the City.
So I asked Hoffmann for the 411. She says the building is in no condition to rent to anyone at this point, and that so far she's done nothing but clean it up. Her plan is to restore it to historic-district standards, which means multiple meetings with preservation honchos from Raleigh -- they're making a third visit to the site tomorrow -- and then, she hopes, approval from the feds. Best case is to start renovation by January.
What about DGI? Hoffmann says the group approached her several weeks after she purchased the building in July, and is one of several entities that have inquired about renting the ground-level space (the second and third floors will be high-end residential units). She has exchanged proposals with DGI, but there is no deal in place and as recently as yesterday she spoke with an apparel retailer who is another possible tenant. "I am nowhere close to making any decision," she says.
I asked if she saw a possible conflict, or even appearance of such, if DGI does rent space from her. "Absolutely," she said, which is why she contacted the City Attorney within an hour of first being approached by the group, and would probably have to recuse herself from any vote regarding DGI funding if she does enter into any kind of lease agreement with them. But, she reiterates, there is no such agreement. City Council passed DGI's latest funding request without discussion in October.
Hoffmann has renovated several historic buildings in the past, and says she's excited to walk the walk in downtown Greensboro. "It's a good building, with great bones and great architectural detail. I anticipate that this [renovation] will be good for the city, although I'm not sure if it will be good for me."