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|Renovation plans detailed for town’s newest lodging|
|Written by Kevin Zimmerman|
|Thursday, 17 February 2011 17:47|
Still months from beginning restoration of the old Tombstone High School into a resort hotel, developer William Smith is deep into planning.
Expected to begin construction in July, Smith believes the project will take 14 months.
Being approved for a Hilton franchise, The Grand Oriental Hotel will include retail shops along Sixth Street and Allen Street, and have residential condominiums on the east side of the property, where the old John L. Wyatt Elementary
Construction won't start until the school year is over because of liability issues. Smith said he still needs to ready the property with soil and structural analysis.
Gerald Gagnepain, architect and senior project manager for Lamb
"Right now we're in the schematic design phase," Gagnepain said. "Basically, explore options for the site, options for the existing buildings. We go out and do site evaluation ... (we) look at existing buildings, look at existing maps of the parcels."
Hilton's quality assurance and quality insurance inspections are "brutal," said Gagnepain. He said Hilton loyalty and location should increase tourism.
"You have bus trips that pass through on the way to Bisbee, (Ariz.), and I think it will capture those tourists that actually are
Gagnepain said his company spent three months researching the architecture, aiming to meet Smith's expectation of an 1880-85 feel to the building.
"Tombstone went through two major fires, and we try to reflect the phases that Tombstone went through before and after each of those fires," he said. "There's several distinct styles up until the 1880s up until the 1900s."
Smith said he expects the hotel to operate with as many as 30 employees.
He plans to lease out retail parcels, further increasing jobs.
Condominiums will be available to be leased or rented, Gagnepain said.
The property is on a lease from the Tombstone Unified School District, but that doesn't restrict Smith's construction schedule, he said.
Smith won't obtain full ownership until he finishes building the new Tombstone High School's athletic facilities.
Smith also must pay the district $360,000 in cash for the title to permanently transfer, said the district Superintendent Karl Uterhardt.
He estimated that building football stands, lights, baseball and softball fields, tennis courts and a track will be done Jan. 1, 2013.
"Our kids won't have to be bused anywhere anymore," said Uterhardt, whose students were sent to the old high school for sporting events. "That's how it's supposed to be."
When the students are no longer using the old school, Smith will begin digging.
"Tombstone is too tough to die, but it's unfortunately sometimes on its last breath," Smith said. "It's too nice of a place not to keep it going."
May 20 – Football construction begins