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Seville Hotel renovation to be done by fall 1999

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Plans are moving forward for the renovation of the approximately 30,000-square-foot Seville Hotel, said Tim Rosenbury, a partner in the project with Phil Burgess and Sam Freeman.

The trio plan to renovate the building into 32 hotel suites, restoring it to its former use, Rosenbury said. The building has contained apartments for the past several years, perhaps first being renovated into apartments in the 1950s, Rosenbury said.

"A lot of restoration is adaptive reuse: buildings being renovated into something other than their former purpose. Our intention is to restore this building to its initial use," Rosenbury said.

The developers announced in May that they had purchased the Seville and the now-closed Marquette. At that time, about 40 residents lived in the Seville, which had been low-income housing. The residents were offered assistance through the city Community Development Block Grant program, which offered each resident up to $1,000 for moving expenses. The residents finished moving out about mid-June, Rosenbury said.

The architectural planning stage for the renovation is now "in full swing," Rosenbury said. His firm, Butler, Rosenbury & Partners, will be handling the interior design and architecture for the project. It has not yet been released for bids from general contractors; that will probably happen in about 60 days, Rosenbury said.

In his plan, the basic configuration of the rooms will remain, Rosenbury said. The historic elements of the building will also remain intact, he added. The developers have hired a graduate student from Southwest Missouri State University to research the hotel's history.

"What we have now is a basic understanding of how the hotel was used and how that use changed. We want to get a more comprehensive understanding for the building's history," Rosenbury said.

Some of the historical elements being retained include the lobby, Gailey's lunch counter and the original elevator shaft. The group will be "starting from scratch" with the building's plumbing and electrical systems.

"We are basically trying to get the building back to a shell status, and we have to rework those basic elements," Rosenbury said.

The very first part of the renovation involves cleaning the building, both on the inside, where workers are now removing items tenants left behind, and on the outside, where the brick will be washed.

To clean the brick, the developers have chosen not to sandblast, Rosenbury said, but will begin with the least abrasive method of cleaning and test spots of the brick to see how well it works.

"You start with running water and see how that works. Then, if you need something stronger, you add a natural-bristle brush or some household detergent, such as Tide. Usually, it takes nothing stronger than Tide and a medium-pressure hose," Rosenbury said.

The developers will also have to bring in an environmental assessment company to determine the levels of lead and asbestos in the building, and get those removed.

Though design on the building is preliminary, it will contain a courtyard in the lobby area, Rosenbury said. Gailey's will remain as the breakfast and lunch restaurant for the hotel, and a dinner restaurant will be added. Each of the 32 suites will contain a kitchenette, a separate sleeping room with a bathroom, and a living room with a convertible sofa, Rosenbury said. Rooms will be between $129 and $139 per night.

After the clean-up phase, the demolition phase on the building will begin, Rosenbury said. The developers are considering placing a sample suite in the building to help in its marketing. That will not be ready until after the first of 1999. The entire project is slated for completion in fall of 1999, Rosenbury said.

The developers will tackle the Marquette once the Seville project is up and running, Rosenbury said, probably in the spring of 1999. The Marquette will probably be a mixed-use building with retail space on all three of its floors, and approximately five lofts or apartments on the upper floors. The Marquette is also approximately 30,000 square feet.

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