Downtown Hays hotel would invoke historical past

Hays Post

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.

Hotel2The 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.’Hotel3

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.

  • Skeptic

    Does Liberty Group plan on asking the city for any sort of tax breaks or assistance? Also, I have to laugh at Schwaller claiming this will generate a lot of national and international press. Well, I guess he’s right, in that I’m sure they’ll send out press releases to everyone who will read them.

    • HAys

      Comeau has already garnered a lot of national and international interest through his various businesses. He really has been a blessing to our community!

      • Sources please

        What interest has he garnered in downtown Hays? I don’t really see how he’s been a blessing to this community: the Fox remains mostly unused, many buildings owned by Liberty Group are empty and run down, and I don’t see a lot of new businesses jumping at the chance to dive head first into a dead downtown.

      • chuckky C$

        Please document how much of our tax dollars have gone to his “garnered national and international interest” vs his using his own money! Until you publish those facts, don’t give him, ( give us) the credit.

  • choppers

    sounds like a great idea–for private capitol to invest in. from the article no mention of taxpayers helping to foot this bill. we’ll see.

    • Hays

      Comeau typically funds a lot of his own projects. The only outside investments may come from available grants at state and national levels or maybe the DHDC, but they tend to have their own fund that may work on seeking grants, but not funding enterprises.

    • Cousin Vinnie

      The article says Comeau will ask commissioners for money. It does not say how much he’s received from private investors. He should at least have the $18 million he claims to get from investors before we give the go ahead, or we’ll be stuck with an uncompleted project and the whole bill. How about cutting a couple mills instead. We really don’t need more maid and waiter jobs!

  • This is what we need

    Regardless… I think it will be a great addition to our downtown and finally have a place for people to stay in our downtown area… I bet it’d be a popular place with like college students parents, like they said family reunions, and Wild West fest…

  • hmmmm

    II think this a great idea if they can make it work, and we don’t end up with another empty building in the same spot. The main problem I see here is going to be parking. I am not sure how they will be able to make enough parking, as parking is already tight downtown when events happen.

    • clight89

      I don’t see why they couldn’t build some sort of parking garage. If you run out of space on flat ground why not build up?

      • parking

        At 15 to 17 million…you have to think that includes some kind of parking garage, at least I would think so.

  • Positive Thoughts

    Yeah! Get rid of the old eyesore! Upgrade the downtown. Improvements! Places to stay and bring in revenue. No tax dollars. Keep these comments positive! We can do so much with positive thinking and actions. The Chestnut Street District is such a great addition for Hays. We are so fortunate.

  • Cousin Vinnie

    Another waste of taxpayer money. He has entirely used our tax dollars over the past 14 year to restore Main St. with very little success. The Strand was restored 5 yrs. ago and investors interested…no takers for the Fox either! This will not bring in more revenue and the article mentioned he will ask the commission(taxpayers} for money…we will never know how much it will cost us and no return on the money since we’re just shifting where people will spend the night if you believe Schwaller’s hype. Hotel rooms next to railroad crossings…”Cousin Vinnie comes to Hays”? What a joke!

  • If you build it they wont come

    Let them build this at their own risk and peril. That is a hefty price tag. It would not be wise to offer any sort of tax incentives as it likely is mostly shifting paid hotel rooms from one part of town to another, creating a reduction in tax revenue for the city. SMH.

  • Hays Taxes downtown

    HDDC does in fact receive Hay City Tax dollars! That plus potential tax abatements make this another Hays City tax payer funded project!

    • Hays

      The DHDC. They do receive tax dollars. however, not much of it goes into creating businesses. CS Post and L.b. Brewing have both been recognized on a national scale.

      • Chief69

        Wow! He’s good. Really good. Let’s give more tax dollars to CC and his buds. I am a conservative and have NO interest in this crony capitalism. I suspect the City Commission is in Salina strategizing on how to funnel more Hays tax dollars into their crony projects……paved dikes, bike trails, downtown entrée promenade, etc. Downtown Development District is simply a tax money laundry into private friends of the city commission and staff. Let the free market make the decisions, not cronies.

      • Chief49

        So they have been recognized “nationally” ….so has ACORN.

      • Commentor

        How much, in dollars, has this national recognition been contributing to the economy of Hays? The only way Charlie operates is through other people’s money. Why doesn’t he fix up his own hometown and stop with ours? Their are all kinds of empty buildings in Plainville he can invest in. Most of them are already storing his extra things or the windows are boarded up.

  • duke

    what is this addiction to downtown hays that seems us taxpayers have to keep funding in some way or another. comeau keeps coming up with ideas and we have to help fund them. and why is schwaller so nuts about this all the time. enough already.

  • Citizen Hays

    The only concern I would have is the noise coming from right down the street at Singers. Drive past there on a weekend night and you’ll know what I mean. You can hear the band from three blocks away.

    • WD

      As someone who lives 3 blocks away from that place, I agree!

    • Jammin

      Can hear it at 23rd & Pine!

  • Chucky C’s for dinner

    Will Chucky Como be takin’ the comish’s out to dinner tonight in Salina to help them form their strategic vision for spending tax payer dollars downtown during their junket to Salina? Will dinner tonight on the tax payer dime, be an “open meeting”? Inquiring minds want to know!