New Secrets of the Old Roosevelt Hotel Revealed During Ground Breaking Ceremony Wednesday
SAN ANGELO, TX — Downtown San Angelo, Inc.’s executive director Del Velasquez introduced San Angelo builder Mike Biggerstaff, flanked by Mayor Dwain Morrison, Councilman Harry Thomas, and downtown revitalization pioneer Brenda Gunter, before the five broke ground on the rehabilitation of the Roosevelt Hotel Wednesday. We'll get to the secrets below.
Above: The old wooden sign above the main entrance. What did it say, exactly? (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
“I can’t wait to put the Roosevelt back into its original glory, and go Biggerstaff! Go Bobcats!” Morrison said (the San Angelo Central Bobcat football team is in the semifinal playoffs Friday, two days hence).
“This project is exciting for me and for Mr. Steve Sorrells [Biggerstaff’s Waco partner]. This is a part of our history. And to be able to take this part of history and preserve it, and stop it from deteriorating further, is an honor,” Biggerstaff said. “The Downtown San Angelo [Inc.] people have been amazing to work with. I am so appreciative that they have made this possible because, without them, it would not have happened.”
Above: Groundbreaking the rehabilitation (L-R): Brenda Gunter, Michael Biggerstaff, Mayor Dwain Morrison, Councilman Harry Thomas, and Del Velasquez. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Brenda Gunter said she hopes the attention a high-profile local builder is giving to N. Chadbourne will be a catalyst for other developers to dive in. The 50 block of N. Chadbourne already has significant anchors built by the public sector, including the Small Business Development Center and the Stephens Performing Arts Center. At a cost of over $3 million, the Roosevelt project is the largest private sector project in this area of downtown.
“It takes tremendous courage and great vision to undertake this project,” Gunter said.
Above: Michael Biggerstaff (2nd from left) describes his vision for the old Roosevelt Hotel. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
The Roosevelt has experienced a long road to recovery, and Gunter said she took a particular interest in it. Shannon Medical Center, the prior owner, was considering demolishing the Roosevelt several years ago because, at that time, vacant lots downtown had more use. Gunter said she was able to purchase the old building through Downtown San Angelo, Inc. to save the structure.
“Back then, we said, ‘Over our dead bodies, you’ll do that [tear it down]!’” she said. Shannon eventually worked with Gunter to save it. “We’ve been working over several years to save it. We worked with several parties to get the thing cleaned out and preserved,” she said.
Above: An undated sign, likely from the mid-2000s advising customers purchasing old fixtures that all sales are final. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Above: Media and business leaders were present to celebrate the ground breaking. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Gunter credited Casey Deering of Century Builders for breaking the ice by rehabilitating another (and smaller) historical building into lofts at 30 W. Beauregard.
“They set the standard for the first four new lofts,” she said. “But this one is going to set another great big standard. Downtown has been determined to get this building into someone’s hands to make sure that it is preserved, and make sure that sign stays up on top. And we really wanted someone locally to be able to put their arms around it because we know [someone] local loves this city.”
Above: The appreciative crowd witnessing the ground breaking. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Velasquez said a consultant’s study reports that the downtown area can support another 600 living spaces. Downtown living will accelerate the revitalization of downtown, he said.
"This project is going to kick that off in a big way,” he added.
Ortiz Construction begins the interior demolition this week.
Above: The ceiling of the first floor. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Biggerstaff and his partner out of Waco will turn the three-story Roosevelt into a high-end apartment complex. Between 18 and 22 separate units, both single bedroom and double bedrooms, will fill the building that once had about 100 10x10-foot hotel rooms. The old rooms shared a connecting toilet and bath area.
Above: The narrow hallway to the second floor rooms of the old Roosevelt Hotel. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
An experienced residential and commercial builder, Biggerstaff said the Roosevelt’s original contractors in 1927 made it easy to refactor the building. The structure is strengthened by large I-beams with concrete floors. “It’s overbuilt and sturdy,” he said of the building’s structure.
Above: A typical 10x10 hotel room included an individual sink. Every two rooms shared a toilet and bath. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
But the walls were made thin. A wire mesh was framed by tiny metal rods and then finished with plaster and painted. The original interior walls are about three inches thick, and easily removed.
The Roosevelt, originally named the Rainbow Hotel, was the first building erected in San Angelo to use poured concrete. Construction at the old hotel started in 1927 before construction started of the Cactus Hotel.
Expect the Roosevelt to become three large, empty rooms on each floor within about 10 days.
Inside the old Roosevelt, years of neglect are clearly visible. The thin interior walls were deteriorating and a slight smell of mildew was present. Also visible were milestones to the Roosevelt’s earlier times.
In the lobby area, on laser-printed 8x11”, signs obviously created by the building’s former owner, Shannon Medical Center, advise buyers that all sales are final for a sale of interior fixtures years ago.
Above: A typical clawfoot bathtub in many of the shared bathrooms. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
In the southwest corner, shelves and fixtures from the old drug store at the street level are still present. And the doorways into the drug store harken one back to a busier time at the Roosevelt.
Upstairs, the rooms are still in place. Joining every two rooms is a bath area, many with the old-style clawfoot bathtubs. Some of the bathrooms had only a standup shower. The rooms were tiny by today’s standards.
Above: Original room number painted on a second floor door to a hotel room. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Biggerstaff said the rehabilitation will cost more than $3 million. Fireside LLC, the company formed to see the joint venture through, is financing the entire project. Biggerstaff said no bank is involved.
Above: Peering out a third floor window at the second floor roof where plans are made to turn into a deck and joint-use entertainment area. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
The majority of the units will be sold. The exact price is not determined yet, but will be in the $200,000 range.
“A few units on one floor will be leased,” Biggerstaff said. Ryan Newlin of ERA Newlin & Associates is the exclusive real estate broker for the Roosevelt.
Above: The front check-in desk inside the Roosevelt’s lobby. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
Biggerstaff said the signature sign atop the old hotel will be completely refurbished. Except, instead of reading “The Roosevelt Hotel,” it will instead read “The Roosevelt Lofts.”
Above: The interior of the entrance to the old drug store that was located on the southwest corner of the old Roosevelt. (LIVE! Photo/Joe Hyde)
“I can see nothing but brightness in San Angelo’s future,” Mayor Morrison said.