By TYLER MASK
To say that Tuesday night’s Mineral Wells City Council meeting was packed would be an understatement – it was standing room only 15 minutes before commencement. From prominent people such as past Mineral Wells Mayor Clarence Holliman and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ryan Roach to local business owners and families with their children, persons from nearly all demographics showed up to hear about the Baker Hotel renovation project.
Multiple attempts at reviving the Baker have occurred since its closing in 1963. Although these attempts were well intended, they have only added to the general public’s disheartenment towards ever seeing the lights come back on at the center of “main and main;” however, a new dawn is breaking on the mighty 14-story building, and hopes are this time will be different.
“This has been an effort amongst this entire development team, the mayor, the economic development team, Richard Ball and Steve Butcher and their folks as well as your City Manager Lance Howerton,” Chad Patton said. “We have been working diligently over the last six years to put the financing in place for this project, and I have to tell you, it’s been an effort of love on our behalf. We’ve been working on this project really with no compensation, a lot of time, energy and effort out of our pockets to try and make this project a reality. Let me just paraphrase that by saying why it’s taken so long.
“This project costs about $56 million dollars to complete – that’s an all-in-cost – from getting rid of all the asbestos and lead to putting in all the furnishings and bedrooms and meeting spaces – everything that you would need for the hotel. But in the end, once it’s up and running and operating as a four-star destination hotel – bringing it back to its historical glory – it’s really gonna have a valuation of about $30 to $35 million dollars. So traditional financing just doesn’t make sense. It’s kinda hard for a bank to want to finance that. So that’s what’s taken us these six years to get to the place where we are now. And the capital on that is complex, one of the pieces – what we believe to be one of the final pieces of financing – is really the use of these 4B dollars.”