|By Tom Sharpe, The Santa Fe New
MexicanMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 23, 2012--Santa Fe's biggest private construction project this year -- the renovation of the old St. Vincent Hospital into a hotel -- is under way with the excavation of its underground parking garage almost complete.
Drury Southwest and Drury Development Corp., which own about 120 hotels in 20 states, purchased the 5.5-acre property at the corner of East Palace Avenue and Paseo de Peralta in 2007.
Plans call for remodeling the pink-brick hospital, built between 1951 and 1953, into a 182-room family-style hotel. Marian Hall, built between 1908 and 1910, will become a 30-room boutique hotel, and the separate 1904-vintage boiler building will be transformed into meeting rooms.
New construction includes a 204-car parking garage with about 4,000 square feet of retail shops fronting on Paseo de Peralta and three multistoried structures for suites, called casitas, in the southwest corner of the property.
The company put its plans on hold in 2010 due to the ailing economy, then announced last year that due to a favorable outlook for Santa Fe tourism, it would begin the project early this year.
Drury originally planned to renovate the smaller Marian Hall first, but amended its plan to begin with the larger St. Vincent Hospital building, the boiler building and the partly underground parking garage and retail shops -- with a completion date between February and May 2014.
No start or finish dates have been announced for the renovation of Marian Hall or the casita buildings.
Work on the parking garage began in May with the excavation of some 20,000 cubic yards of earth, leaving a hole 12 to 16 feet deep. Pouring of the concrete footings for the garage should begin next week.
Brian Nenninger, development manager for the project, said the garage will actually have four levels, including the basement, where the majority of parking spaces will be located, but its design will "read" more like a two-story structure or even one story from Paseo de Peralta.
An application for a building permit on the interior of the old hospital, with a core height of six stories, including a basement, is expected to be submitted to the city in late June, with work to begin in August.
Nenninger said a Drury Southwest subsidiary, Drury South, is the company's in-house construction contractor for the Santa Fe project. The company hasn't revealed the estimated construction cost, but Nenninger said the only thing in Santa Fe approaching the hotel project is the $63 million First Judicial District Courthouse going up at Sandoval Street and Montezuma Avenue.
During the four years the building sat largely unused -- except as a set for the films Odd Thomas and Crazy Heart -- vandals broke in several times, breaking windows and marking the walls with graffiti, Nenninger said.
He said the construction crews already have torn out some structures including: the exterior stair tower added to the west side of the hospital building during the 1980s; corridors linking the hospital building with Marian Hall; and several maintenance buildings added during the 1960s.
Nenninger said Marian Hall's original chandeliers also were discovered in the building, and plans call for repairing them, manufacturing a few more to replace some that have been lost and reinstalling them in the old building during the second phase of work.
Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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