Cleveland’s ability to land the Republican National Convention was aided in large part by the inventory of hotel rooms being added by several new hotel projects underway downtown. One of the more unique and ambitious projects is the conversion of the old Cleveland School's administration building into a Drury Hotel.
Drury Southwest bought the East 6th Street building, which was part of the Group Mall Plan in 2013 for $4.5 million, and began work immediately to convert the Cleveland landmark into a 189 room hotel.
“It is an incredibly fun project,” said Krisandra Lippert, Project Manager for Drury. “The building itself has very good bones, it’s a very solid building but a very strong personality as well."
“It’s not going to be told what to do so every time you turn a corner you just don’t know what you’re going to find, walls behind walls, ceilings above ceilings, pipes you know the whole thing,” she said.
The grand lobby will be the focal point with a driveway entrance being added off East 6th Street for guest drop off. “There are quite a few contractors on this job that remember coming in and sitting on the benches that we actually have in storage, waiting for their mom to register them for school,” Lippert said.
The building has six public floors along with a basement and attic. “The first three floors have the most historical integrity left intact. The upper three floors were more or less offices, cubicles, things like that. So up on the top floors here we had a little bit more liberty to be able to narrow the corridors and make the units larger,” Lippert said.
No cookie cutter rooms here; in fact, out of the 189 the hotel will have there will be 49 different room types, a mix of kings, queens, doubles, adjoining rooms and suites.
On the sixth floor the rooms are already beginning to take shape with carpeting down and some art work going up. “You can see there’s not a bad room in the house, we are so lucky to be here,” Lippert said looking out one of the restored original windows.
“We’re restoring all of the windows. It’s 30,000 pounds of glazing that we took out of this building. There’s 1,500 pounds of brass hardware that they’re restoring and that’s going to get put back on these windows that are made up of first growth sugar pine, first growth mahogany,” she said.
“All the marble sills are staying and getting either repaired and polished or replaced.”
The copper roof was also replaced, work that will wrap up in a few weeks. “There’s 55,000 pounds of copper up on that roof and it’s already starting to patina so we’re pretty excited about that,” she said.
The $50 million project is being completed with the use of some historic tax credits to aid in the extensive restoration work.
“Without the historic tax credits it would be even more challenging but that is a big incentive and that helps us a lot.”
What was a library on the third floor is being converted into an executive suite, the seven historic doors have been removed for refurbishing as have some of the historic light fixtures.
“On the walls here you would think it’s wallpaper, that’s actually hand painted linen,” Lippert said. “So we have a restoration artist who is actually onsite now starting in the auditorium but they’ll fix all of this up.”
The auditorium will remain a meeting space with the painted ceiling being restored.
“At one point they had built a raised floor in here and had seating. The historic folks did allow us to take that out since it wasn’t original and we’ll take the wainscot down to the floor here. The historic stage will be refurbished and used,” she said.
Work continues to progress on the project which is slated for completion in April of 2016.
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