City Manager Lance Howerton is particularly optimistic about the project.
“From what I have seen, this has been the best progress that has been made on this project, to date,” he said. “We’re very encouraged at this point that there are some very substantial groups looking at the project.
They appear to have significant levels of interest and that’s extremely encouraging. Typically the people that are looking at these types of projects don’t waste their time getting detailed information about a project unless they have a pretty good level of interest.”
Key to the Baker project is the acquisition of federal and state historic tax credits – the latter of which were just passed in the Texas Legislature. Fairchild explained that both types of tax credits will give back a combined 45 cents for every dollar invested in the project. These credits can then go out into the market and be sold, to ensure cash flow.
In order to qualify for these credits, the project has to adhere to strict guidelines and must restore the Baker – a nationally registered historic building – as closely as possible to its original state when it first opened in 1929. For this reason, the new Baker will appear like a time capsule, harkening back to its full, original glory, with the exception of a few modern amenities.
Those involved in the project are confident that the restored Baker Hotel will have no difficulty attracting guests and making money, according to Fairchild. The tax credits are a big part of that equation. Howerton, too, believes in the project’s viability.
Fairchild said the renovation will be a long process – with cleanup and abatement, alone, lasting nine months to a year and the construction lasting about two years. Once underway, the process will benefit Mineral Wells significantly, generating a whole new crop of local jobs.