A FRESH FACE: Fayetteville's rebranding effort seeks to create a cohesive narrative for the diverse area.

Author:Blake, Kathy
 
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Jordan Jones' great-great-grandfather built the seven-story Prince Charles Hotel in Fayetteville in 1925, a year before the Cumberland County Courthouse was constructed and years before the town saw its first high school. The inn made the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, before it fell into disrepair and was closed in 2011. Jones, a 34-year-old Durham resident and real estate developer with PCH Holdings, is orchestrating the rebirth of the hotel as part of a branding effort that is redefining downtown Fayetteville. Dubbed "The Gathering at the Prince Charles," the building reopened in May as luxury apartments with 55% occupancy.

This is just one step in a massive effort to showcase Fayetteville as a residential and commercial destination with a melting pot of businesses, arts, sports, education, multiple nationalities and the world's largest military base.

The diversity of the city and its 658-square-mile county have prompted local officials to commission Nashville, Tenn.-based North Star Place Branding + Marketing to develop an all-inclusive county identity. The business was hired in March for a rebranding process that is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

"It's a very far-reaching and inclusive process," says North Star President and CEO Will Ketchum, who is based in Jacksonville, Fla. "We also seek perspectives from those outside of Fayetteville, so we do an awareness and perceptions study, because it's important to weigh how others from afar view your city."

The goal is to define Fayetteville and Cumberland County with a cohesiveness that will draw new businesses and residents. North Star's staff has spent time talking with government officials and various business leaders and walking the streets to talk with residents.

According to the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corp., 82 languages and 86 nationalities are represented in Cumberland County. The second-most spoken language is Arabic in an area that includes Eastover, Falcon, Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Godwin, Hope Mills, Linden, Spring Lake, Stedman and Wade.

"Of course, diversity is at the top of the list," says Kevin Arata, Fayetteville's corporate communications director. "We have people from the military, and we have other nationalities. We host an International Folk Festival every year, and it's basically a parade of nations. And there's a history here--a home town feeling. It's really a regional approach to this. You can't just...

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