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After Spending Millions, Owner Douglas Da Silva Keeps Doors Shuttered
 on the Artisan Hotel in Downtown, El Paso, Texas

By Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 2, 2008 - EL PASO -- The Artisan Hotel in Downtown did not open Friday as the hotel owner promised six weeks ago.

It's not known if or when the hotel will open.

It was supposed to open in 2006 after extensive renovations were done to the 105-room hotel at 325 N. Kansas. The hotel operated as a Holiday Inn before closing in 1996.

"We're not opening today. We have no actual date. We're still working" on the hotel, Luis Morales, the Artisan's general manager, said in a brief telephone conversation Friday.

Douglas Da Silva, a Las Vegas hotel operator who bought the El Paso hotel in January 2006, would not talk to the El Paso Times this week about his plans for the hotel.

"It's a curiosity," said Michael Breitinger, executive director of the Central Business Association. "It's important for any building Downtown to be open. I saw how much work he put into it. The lobby alone is awesome. People come Downtown and see a hotel, and then see it's not open. It's not a good thing. I'd like to see him do something with it."

On June 23, Da Silva told the El Paso Times he planned to open the hotel Aug. 1, and planned to take the hotel off the sales market.

The hotel has been for sale with an asking price of $7 million. Da Silva said he paid $1.6 million for it.

Shortly after buying the hotel, Da Silva said he planned to spend about $1.3 million to remodel the hotel and make it similar to his 64-room Artisan Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas. In June, he said he had spent about $6 million

renovating the hotel. It's decorated with reproductions of classic paintings, and has a huge water fountain in the lobby.

J. David Young, a vice president at Henry S. Miller Commercial, a large Dallas commercial real estate firm which has been trying to sell the Artisan, said the sales listing is expiring and the hotel will be taken off the market next week.

Joe Frandina, managing partner for a group which owns the Holiday Inn Express at 409 E. Missouri in Downtown, and vice president of the El Paso Hotel-Motel Association, said he'd like the Artisan to open because it's supposed to have a bar and grill, and guests from his hotel could go there at night. The Holiday Inn has no restaurant, and its guests have few options if they want to find a place to eat Downtown at night, Frandina said.

The Artisan would add more activity to the Downtown, and that would be good for the area, Frandina said. He doesn't foresee the Artisan taking guests away from the Holiday Inn Express, he said.

Breitinger said Artisan representatives opposed the city and county giving El Paso lawyer Jim Scherr tax abatements and tax rebates to help with the cost of renovating a hotel building at 113 W. Missouri into a DoubleTree Hotel.

"I'm glad to see the DoubleTree is going in," Breit inger said. The 210-room DoubleTree is scheduled to open early next year. The other major hotel Downtown is the 359-room Camino Real at 101 S. El Paso.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at, 546-6421

For more information:

Artisan Hotel misses Aug. 1 opening date

Artisan timeline

--January 2006: Las Vegas hotel operator Douglas Da Silva buys long-vacant former Holiday Inn at 325 N. Kansas for $1.3 million.

--February 2006: Da Silva begins hotel renovations, which, he estimated would cost $1.3 million.

--April 2006: Hotel is scheduled to open, but delays in remodeling and in getting a liquor license push proposed opening to September 2006.

--January 2007: Da Silva says construction problems have kept hotel from opening. He's not sure whether he'll open hotel.

--June 2008: Da Silva says he plans to open hotel Aug. 1, and plans to take hotel off sales market. He says he's spent $6 million on renovation.

--Aug. 1, 2008: Hotel remains closed. Future unknown.

Source: El Paso Times archives.


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