Charles Comeau, president of Liberty Group, Inc. in Plainville, presented a downtown hotel concept to Hays city commissioners at Thursday’s commission work session.
The main building of the hotel will be located at 12th and Main and will feature 48 hotel rooms. The second floor of some adjacent buildings will also be utilized for loft-style hotel rooms. The properties to be utilized are 1107-1111 Main Street, 1013 Main, 1012 Main and 1102 Main.
“(The second floor rooms) offer the opportunity of an extended stay. They will have amenities that are a little bit more than what’s in the main building such as a kitchenette,” Comeau said. “They would allow somebody or a family to lease a whole entire floor for family that all wanted to be together.”
Liberty Group chose to name the hotel “Hays City Proper” due to the historical significance the name has to the city.
“We knew the name had to be grounded in Hays history,” Comeau said. “So we went to an old plat map and we noticed right away that there was this term called ‘Hays City Proper’ which referred to the area where the original plat was.”
“We felt like it is referential to the area that it’s in and it’s grounded in Hays history.”
The concept also calls for the renovation of the old Strand Theater, located next to the proposed hotel, into a 6,000 square foot events center.
Amenities at the new events center include a full catering kitchen and seating for approximately 350 people for dinner or standing room for approximately 1,000 guests. There is 3,000 square feet of additional room for breakout sessions. The main hotel building will feature a bridge with an overhead for people to cross over into the new events center.
The main hotel building will include a café and a cocktail lounge. “Molroy Café” will provide occupants with breakfast and light lunches and dinner. Its name comes from the name of a long-ago hotel that sat across the street from the proposed building. The cocktail lounge will be called the “Blue Light Lady Lounge” which comes from the legend of Elizabeth Polly who lived at Fort Hays.
The main hotel building takes the form of a grain elevator, honoring the significance of the structure in western Kansas. The architectural work was done by Lake Flato, San Antonio, Texas. According to Comeau, the group has a “well-known reputation for adaptive reuse, design, and their specific ability to design ‘indigenous architecture.’
Liberty Group is currently working on creating parking space for the hotel.
The entire project is projected to cost between $15-17 million and will be financed through private investments. Liberty Group does plan on asking commissioners for some tax incentives if the plan goes through.
Comeau said the project will be completed in two phases. The first phase will include construction of the main hotel building and events center. Phase two will include renovation of the second floor lofts.
“Even if people don’t come to stay in the hotel, they’ll come just to see the structure, ” mayor Henry Schwaller said.
“This is something that will garner a lot of national and international press just because of its unique look…… This is certainly something that we haven’t seen with any other convention center project and I commend you and I look forward to seeing this happen,” Schwaller added.
Liberty Group hopes to begin tearing down the old bank building currently occupying the main hotel site at the end of the year and they plan to open for business in 2016.