Five months after developer Jeff Tucker's company bought the former Brownwood Hotel, the 12-story building's appearance hasn't changed: an empty, silent sentinel with an inhospitable interior.
But if you think nothing is happening toward bringing the grand old lady back to life, you'd be wrong. Way wrong.
“There’s not a day goes by there’s not something happening with it behind the scenes," Tucker said. “People right now don’t see action on it. There’s a lot to happen in planning behind the scene — before we start pulling out hammers and working on it.”
When Tucker and his partners bought the building last fall through their company, Historic Brownwood Texas Hotel LLC, he announced plans to renovate the structure into a botique hotel. He said the planning stage would take at least a year.
“There’s so much due diligence and research and things like that related to it," Tucker said. "It’s a big project so it’s going to take some time to get it done, and that means planning."
He's been talking with companies who can become involved in the many aspects of the renovation including windows, plumbing and electrical.
"We are also in the process right now of having a couple of gentlemen who have a lot of expertise in such projects, doing some programming on the hotel, as to how many rooms to actually render out of it," Tucker said. "We’ve talked about parking solutions downtown and how that might augment over time.
"We’re looking at everything — any incentive that could be applicable to the hotel. We’re trying to figure out, how do we take roughly 175-plus rooms, and convert that down to maybe 110 or 120 efficiently to create the best process for this development."
Tucker has also been talking regular with Ray Tipton, the city's economic development director.
"We’ve been going over some finite numbers," Tucker said. "Right now we’re truly knee deep in conversations daily, about what cost projections will be, and our this is what we think the cost will be, and our expectation for incentives."
Tipton said the renovation of the Brownwood Hotel is a major component of the city's downtown redevelopment.
“I know from the city’s standpoint, we identified the Brownwood Hotel as an important and high priority project for us, for the community. We’ve had a lot of success with our downtown revitalization in the last three years and we really feel, between the Brownwood Hotel and the Event Center project, those are going to help push downtown revitalization to a whole new level that we have probably not seen in a long time, if ever.”
Tucker and city officials are watching the renovation of the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. They have met with the developers of that project and Mineral Wells officials.
Tipton said he,City Manager Emily Crawford and Deputy City Manager Marshal McIntosh have visited the Baker Hotel. The intent was “just to help us get a grasp of, how do you do a project like this, what does it look like, and what’s the city’s role," Tipton said. "Talking with them and touring the hotel was a great experience. It was greatly beneficial."
Tipton noted that Mineral Wells has a smaller population than Brownwood and the Baker Hotel project is 2 ½ times the size of the Brownwood Hotel. "That project’s moving forward and that project’s happening," Tipton said. "Our downtown is a little more advanced than Mineral Wells was when their hotel project started. It makes me realize that the Brownwood Hotel project is very feasible and very doable and I believe it’s going to be something that is definitely going to happen. It gave me a lot more confidence in the project, for sure."
Tipton said although the Mineral Wells project is bigger, “the process for getting there with the developer and with the builder and with the city officials, the mechanics of doing that are exactly the same. You’re just scaling it from a bigger project to a smaller project.”