|By Kevin Collison, The Kansas City Star, Mo.|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jun. 2, 2004 - KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The long-delayed renovation of the historic President Hotel is expected to resume in earnest this month now that developer Ron Jury has completed his private financing.
Jury said Tuesday that he signed a $12.9 million permanent construction loan with the Marshall Investments Corp. of Minnesota late last week, wrapping up the financing package required for the $45.4 million project. He already had obtained a commitment for a $15 million city-backed loan and $17.5 million in federal and state tax credits.
Jury began his quest to convert the vacant building at 14th Street and Baltimore Avenue into a 214-room boutique hotel more than two years ago but ran into problems when his initial private financing deal fell through.
He persevered despite criticism by development and civic leaders that his project was unnecessary, and he is now poised to take advantage of the new South Loop redevelopment plan.
"I'm excited the financing is completed," he said, "but the real work begins now. I'm anxious to complete the project, and I hope everybody else in the district gets on board and started as early as possible."
Limited work could begin by late this week, he said, but a full construction crew was not expected to be back in the 15-story building until the end of the month. Jury said the hotel, which will operate under the Hilton flag, is expected to open in September 2005.
That schedule would have the hotel opening about six to nine months before the completion of the other major components of the seven-block South Loop redevelopment plan that includes a new H&R Block headquarters and the Kansas City Live entertainment district. In addition, the owner of the historic Power & Light building is pursuing a plan to redevelop the block it is located on.
Jury said J.E. Dunn Construction would continue to be his contractor. He said Dunn was one of several companies that patiently worked with him during the delay.
"I want to thank all the lien-holders for supporting me the past couple of years," he said.
He also praised the work of his attorney, Spencer Thomson of Blackwell Sanders, for his persistence in completing the new financing and other arrangements required to get the project back on track. Presidian Partners, a San Antonio hotel developer, has become a partner in the venture.
The President Hotel has been a downtown landmark since it opened in 1926. Its nightclub, the Drum Room, and its historic public rooms, including the Aztec Room, were popular gathering spots and will be restored. The east side of the hotel will be reconfigured to create a second entrance facing the new Kansas City Live entertainment district.
The building has been empty since 1980.
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