CARY — The federal government shutdown ended months ago, but Cary is still feeling its impact.
The town submitted an application Sept. 30 for a $1.4 million loan from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on behalf of developers who hope to build a boutique hotel on South Academy Street.
The Mayton Inn is one of a few public-private partnerships Cary has entered into in an effort to revitalize its downtown.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, known as HUD, typically designates 90 days to review and decide on whether to approve a loan request.
But the day after Cary submitted its application, the federal government partially shut down after House Republicans refused to approve funding past Oct. 1 unless the Senate and President Barack Obama agreed to defund the Affordable Care Act.
Until a spending deal was reached 16 days later, many federal government services, including HUD, were closed.
“They probably didn’t even open the envelope until they got back from the shutdown,” said Philip Smith, a Cary planning manager who filled out the application.
The Town Council planned to grant the loan to hotel developers Colin and Deanna Crossman at its Jan. 9 meeting but had to delay the action because HUD hadn’t ruled on the request.
The town also had to amend its purchase agreement with the developers, moving the closing date to Jan. 31.
But HUD didn’t reach out to Cary by then, either.
So at its meeting Thursday night, the Town Council voted to push the closing date to June 2.
“We’re waiting for the federal government to make a decision,” said Ted Boyd, Cary’s downtown manager.
Town staff would like to know if there’s a hangup but can’t get a HUD official on the phone, Smith said.
“I haven't even gotten a question about the application itself,” he said. “I’d like to hear something."
HUD grants loan requests for projects that improve housing, public facilities or economic development.
Smith said he doubts there’s an error with the application and is confident about the town’s chances.
Aside from crossing and dotting the right letters on the application, “We’ve also analyzed the deal from a marketing standpoint and feel it’s a feasible project,” he said.
Some Cary residents aren’t so sure, though, and are opposed to the project.
The town has been criticized for showing unfair favoritism to one business and making a bad investment.
Town staff and council members have argued that the $9.5 million hotel would be good for the community because it would increase foot traffic downtown and add 40 low- to moderate-income jobs.
Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht