Demolition began this week on the Holiday Inn on Nott Terrace to make way for a new DoubleTree by Hilton, expected to open this fall.
The hotel, dating back to the 1960s, will be only partially demolished, but much of what remains will be fully gutted and rebuilt as brand-new hotel rooms with new windows, décor, carpeting, lighting, refrigerators and microwaves. Nearly everything else is being demolished and will be built anew in a different footprint and more modern layout. This week’s demolition included the Holidome, an indoor recreation spot with a pool and exercise area.
“We were aiming for late summer but it’s looking like it’s going to reopen in the fall,” said Jeff Brown, CEO of Schahet Hotel Management, the Indianapolis company that owns both the Holiday Inn building and the Hampton Inn downtown.
The project is being done in two parts. Jackson Demolition of Schenectady is handling the demolition, which should take about two months. A bid has yet to go out for the reconstruction and renovation work, said Brown. That’s because his company hasn’t put the finishing touches on its overall plan for the new hotel brand.
“We didn’t want to wait for the demolition,” said Brown. “We could get permits to demo the building, because the demo is very easy to plan. You’re taking things down and that’s pretty simple. The reconstruction is, of course, more complicated, but we should be done with those plans within the next few weeks.”
Brown declined to disclose the project cost, citing the plans that have yet to be finalized. But local officials told The Daily Gazette last fall it will be upwards of $7 million.
The new hotel will be the Capital Region’s first DoubleTree by Hilton, which has 13 locations in New York and 325 hotels in 27 different countries. It will feature a new entrance, an “open concept” restaurant and lounge area, banquet space with a pre-function area and service corridor, and a new lobby, indoor pool and exercise room.
There will also be fewer rooms — 124 compared to the Holiday Inn’s 183. That was the plan all along, as the Holiday Inn’s occupancy rates never quite recovered from the recession. The owners are hoping the fresh look and upscale brand will help attract new clientele.
The Holiday Inn was closed at the end of 2013 to prepare for the demolition, which was delayed until this week because of the region’s unusually cold and snowy winter.
“Your winter up there did not exactly speed things along,” said Brown. “We got a little behind.”
With the hotel out of commission for the bulk of 2014 and the Hampton Inn frequently booked solid, local officials worried that performers in town for Proctors shows and other visitors to the city would be forced to schedule their overnight stays at hotels outside the county.
Contractors are being paid extra if they finish ahead of schedule. Brown expects the new DoubleTree hotel to be ready to open by October, just in time for Union College’s Homecoming and Family Weekend later that month.