Progress to soon begin remediation work, submitting architectural laser drawings to the state and preparing to relaunch the new website are among the items currently at the forefront of the historic Baker Hotel renovation project.
Southlake developer Chad Patton, a principal in Baker Holdings LP along with Laird Fairchild, said they remain on track to begin the projected nine-month remediation and demolition in late September or early October. Remediation will remove asbestos, lead and other caustic materials from the 90-year-old building.
"We had to hire a (remediation) consultant," Patton said in a Friday morning telephone call. "The state requires that we have a consultant retained that does daily air quality testings and things of that nature. That consultant has been retained."
He said the consultant is also reviewing specifications and remediation contractor bids, with plans to soon award those contracts and begin that work.
Necessary to begin working inside the building is getting utilities in place to meet fire and safety codes.
"We now have some power to the building," Patton said. "We should have water to the building shortly, the city is working on that. The city has been working hard, the city staff has been working hard to meet our timelines and keep the project going forward."
An interesting and high-tech facet of the historic $65 million renovation and restoration project is laser drawings to recreate the building's blueprints.
"We brought in a group to laser shoot the entire facility," Patton stated. "Every room, every hallway, to get the exact dimensions of the hotel. That's been completed and we are submitting the entire package to the Texas Historical Commission. We have a deadline of Sept. 15 to get that into them."
He said the hotel's original blueprints do not exist.
"I haven't seen them yet but our architect, Kurt Thiel, is just drooling over the amount of detail that comes out of those laser drawings and schematics," said Patton. "It all gets put into a computer software system that reproduces the facility electronically with all of the dimensions, every single inch of the facility. We are pretty exited about what that is going to be able to produce for us."
The Baker Hotel & Spa's public relations and marketing firm continues working on a new website that hopes to launch sometime after Labor Day, Patton said.
"We are going through a complete web design update," he said. "We are going to have a portal so that anyone who is interested in an event, or staying at the hotel, or if they want to become a contractor, a sub-contractor or a vendor, or wanting to provide a service or they just want to inquire about touring, taking photos, images, videos, whatever it might be, they are going to be able to do that through the website."
The new website will provide a database component for contractors wanting to bid aspects of the project. Contractors will be able to update their information and whatever portion, or portions, of the project they wish to bid on. The database will collect and keep that information. Then when it is time to begin bidding that work, contractors in the database will be contacted.
"We will be able to house all of that information so when it is time to bid for all of those particular projects, we will be able to go back and say, 'Hey, we need you to now bid.'"
He said the project team currently receives all kinds of inquires about the hotel.
"We have heard the extreme from, 'We are waiting to get married so we can have our wedding at the Baker,' to 'We are roofing specialists and we want to provide you a roofing bid,' and everything in between," Patton said. "We don't want to let those fall through the cracks. We wanted to build a system to capture all of that information."
He said it is especially important for local contractors and businesses to put their information into the system once the new website is live.
"We really do want local businesses to have a good shot at winning a bid," Patton said.
He said the new website will also include a portal for potential Opportunity Zone or other investors to make inquiry. Once they make inquiry and are vetted, they will receive information on moving forward in those discussions and negotiations.
The website will be bakerhotelandspa.com.
Wrapping it up
Besides continuing to work with the THC and contractors on window replacements throughout the 14-story structure, Patton said people will soon see wrapping of the construction fence along the south and east sides, providing images of how the hotel will look after renovation is complete.
On the hotel's west side, along N.E. 1st Avenue, plans are to relocate the blue walking tour signs from the building to the fence. The walking tour signs were installed a couple of years ago by Mineral Wells Leadership Class 23, working with the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce.
"We have engaged the chamber to assist us in that," Patton said. "We very much want to honor that, keep the walking tour in place."
Additionally, Patton said work continues to progress with the engineering aspects of the project – designing its major mechanical, electrical and plumbing design details.
"Once we have engineering, then we can go to bid," Patton said.
He said the team has daily calls, meetings and updates about the project.
The renovation project is said to be the largest restoration ever in Texas of a site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Continue watching for regular updates and information as work on the hotel progresses in the coming weeks and months.