Anyone going inside the Baker Hotel now will need to dress up. Not in formal wear, but in protective clothing and a respirator.
As of Monday, the 90-year-old property undergoing historic restoration is an environmental containment site and will be for the next nine months as the removal of asbestos, lead paint and any other caustic materials is now under way.
It is a major milestone in the restoration project that is more than a decade in the making. You could hear the excitement in Chad Patton's voice as he announced what marks the true beginning of construction – or in this case deconstruction – of the hotel.
A principal in the Baker Hotel Development Group along with Laird Fairchild, Patton said they had to wait for Oncor to establish proper electrical service to the building to provide proper air flow before remediation work could start. That happened late last week.
“We have the power on, the standpipes are full of water and remediation work has begun,” Patton said.
He said remediation crews will begin in the Baker's basement and work their up the 14-story building. The southwest corner street-level entrance has been sealed closed.
“You are going to see 80 to 90 workers on site every day, staying in the local hotels,” Patton said.
Patton announced the group has contracted with B&H Engineers Inc. out of the Metroplex to serve as the project's mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineers, another major step forward.
Passersby in the past couple of weeks noticed branding and marketing panels placed along the construction fence on the property's west and south sides. Patton said plans are still to relocate some of the blue walking tour signs from the building to the east side fence.
Updates are coming to the Baker Hotel and Spa's official website (thebakerhotelandspa.com) which will include uploading “The Ballad of the Baker” and a digital flyover.
Additionally the group has also selected flooring concept designs and color palettes and said those will be released to the public in the near future.
In the meantime, the Baker Hotel is a containment zone until remediation work is complete. The first major phase of the estimated $65 million project – said by officials to be the largest restoration of a historic property in Texas history – is officially underway.