Exit 105 hotel, restaurant

This concept design shows what development along a planned access road between South Sterling and West Parker roads could be. The city of Morganton has received plans for a LongHorn Steakhouse to be built where the former Abele's Family Restaurant sits.

The city of Morganton has received plans for a LongHorn Steakhouse to be built where the former Abele’s Family Restaurant building currently sits.

Plans call for the former Abele’s building at 2156 South Sterling St. to be demolished, said Phillip Lookadoo, director of development and design for Morganton. He said plans show the new steakhouse at 5,465 square feet, with the number of seats currently proposed at 274. The number of parking spaces proposed is around 125, he said.

Lookadoo said plans for the restaurant have not been approved yet and the city is in communication with the designers regarding compliance with the zoning ordinance, building codes and other design standards.

The former Zeko's Village, which is beside of the former Abele’s, also is expected to be demolished, said Realtor Mike Watts, who is the broker for the sale of the property. Both eateries have moved to other locations in Morganton.

An access road is the key piece of a planned development that will be anchored by the restaurant and a hotel, he said.

Watts said plans include a select service hotel with around 100 rooms to be located on the property on the hill behind Sonic Drive-In that will have visibility from Interstate 40. Rumors have circulated in town that the hotel will be a Hilton Garden Inn but Watts said the brand hasn’t been determined. Watts said the property for the hotel is under contract with a developer but he wouldn’t divulge the name on Monday.

A conceptual site plan along a planned access road unveiled in the summer of 2014 includes a new hotel, a restaurant and possible other businesses.

The construction of the planned access road between South Sterling Street and West Parker Road is expected to go out for bids on Friday, said Sonja Marston, assistant city manager for Morganton. She said the city gives three weeks for bids and the goal is for construction on the road to start in July.

The access road will line up with the Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge hospital street, which means the signal poles will have to be moved as part of the project, city officials have said. Watts said he believes the road will be completed this year.

The budget for the road project is a little more than $1.3 million, which the city received by way of a grant from Appalachian Regional Commission in 2017.

Watts said the ARC grant had the stipulation of a hotel and a minimum number of jobs. To meet the minimum number of jobs required, a restaurant element had to be included in the development.


Sharon McBrayer is a staff writer and can be reached at smcbrayer@morganton.com or at 828-432-8946.

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