Tabor Grand Hotel Undergoes $7 Million Renovation
By Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today
“Wowser, looks like they’re serious this time!” That was one of the comments made when this picture of the Tabor Grand Hotel’s renovation project was posted on the Leadville Today Facebook page.
Yes, they are serious. And while the Tabor Grand Hotel’s history is well-known, it’s present-day condition is even harder to miss, once you turn the corner onto Harrison Avenue. The scaffold-encased, historic beauty is undergoing a $7 million renovation. So, yes they are serious!
So who exactly are “they”? The Overland Property Group (OPG) out of Kansas City, Kan. bought the property in mid-Match of this year, after hearing that the historic gem was for sale, and in need of major renovation work.
“We came into the conversation in December of last year,” said Matt Gillam, OPG’s Vice President of Development. “But the opportunity to own and work on such a project was hard to pass up.”
And so far, most locals would agree that the new owners are the right people for the job.
The Tabor Grand’s last renovation was completed back in 1992. But for those who’ve been around long enough to remember, a lot of that work was a band-aid fix for what is considered to be one of Leadville’s crowning gems on historic Harrison Avenue.
And in recent years, the old gal was looking a bit worse for the wear, deteriorating one brick at a time, out onto the sidewalk at an ever-increasing rate, and danger to the public.
“Our intention is to thoughtfully preserve the building. To have the renovation done correctly,” stated Gillam, adding that this method would ensure another 50-70 years of life for the building.
The plan is extensive and includes a complete interior and exterior renovation of the building, nuts to bolts. On the exterior, that will include installing a new roof, sealing the brick, restoring all of the unique cornices, and bringing all those windows back to their original state, including the old ropes used to open and close them. Unfortunately, not a lot of the window panes are original, so OPG is working with the historic commission and a specialized window refurbisher to get double paned, energy effiecient windows milled into the current shape. And yes, the “Baby Doe Box” window will remain!
On the interior, it’s a complete overhaul for the 37 residential, one and two bedroom units. At present, work is already underway on the 6 top floor units. This includes all new appliances, tile, cabinets, paint, all of it! The OPG kept tenants in mind when developing the plan. In fact, 31 of the 37 residential units are still occupied. The plan is that once the top floor units are complete, some of the tenants will move up to those units, vacating the next round of interior work for the apartments.
“We worked hard in not having to displace any tenants during renovation,” said Gillam. And the low-income housing qualifications will remain in place for residential tenants as well.
So what about the street-level commercial tenants, who seem to be encased in scaffolding and signage these days?
“They all plan on staying on,” said Gillam. However, the renovation does not include the interior to commercial spaces, that’s up to each business, although several are considering a remodel.
Some of that interior commercial space will be the leasing office for Overland Property Group, including a new community lounge room.
“We are trying to make that space as historically relevant as possible, “explained Gillam. “We feel like we’re stewards to this building and want to remain true to the time period the building represents.”
One of the things that won’t be changing is the property managers, Terrence and Deb McNicholas. “They are great people, so we’re excited that they are going to stay on with us,” added Gillam.
So what’s the timeline from here? Obviously, weather is a primary concern. The roof is currently being replaced. Next is the brick and cornice work. The public can expect to see the scaffolding remain in place until Oct/Nov, or once the exterior work is complete.
And remember, you can keep up with the progress yourself from OPG’s webcam, pointed directly at the Tabor Grand Hotel from the roof of the Manhattan Bar across the street.
It is actually two cameras, the live web cam and a time-lapse camera, which takes a picture of the project every 15 minutes. The end result will be one of those high-tech, time-lapse videos of construction from beginning to end. Leadville Today will bring that to readers when it’s available.
“Our goal is to be completely done by the end of this year,” concluded Gillam. “We want to make sure that the renovation that is done this time, preserves that building, which is such a dominate piece of history, not only for Leadville, but the entire state of Colorado. Once the project is complete, we believe, that it should win national awards and continue to be a pride for Leadville and Colorado.”
It’s good to know that historic Harrison Avenue will see one of its Grande Dames of architecture made over, just in time for her 130th Birthday. It’s time to party like it’s 1885!