Last updated: July 24, 2013 Rendering of completed Taylor Hotel
Something wonderful is happening. Reaching the end result is going to take patience, heart and grace as the road to get there will be long and hard. But the renovated historic gem standing tall at the finish line will make all the tough times and waiting a distant memory. Let’s all enjoy the process, remember the historic significance and look forward to the benefits this renovation will bring to the Winchester community.
Bushrod Taylor built and opened his large hotel in 1848. Located downtown on the Valley Pike (modern US 11), the hotel served travelers and was a base for mail and passenger stagecoaches from at least 1850. General “Stonewall” Jackson used the building as his first headquarters in the fall of 1861 while commander of the Valley District. Following the First Battle of Kernstown in March, 1862 and the Third Battle of Winchester in September of 1864, the hotel was one of many buildings crowded with wounded. A fixture of Winchester’s downtown through much of the twentieth century, as a theater, department store, and telecom center, the building has been vacant since 2004, and its condition has deteriorated, especially after a partial roof collapse in 2007.
In 2010 the City Council condemned the property as blighted and unsafe. Then as the City Council moved to condemn the building, there was significant citizen participation and discussion of the merits of demolition versus renovation and the best design and use of the future project. After the declaration of blight, the City Department of Economic Redevelopment began working on a plan to save the original historic hotel, raze the dilapidated additions and create a public pocket park in their place.
In 2011, the Winchester Economic Development Authority purchased the blighted Taylor Hotel with the intent to return the building into a successful and contributing member of the Loudoun Street Mall. After the middle portion of the building collapsed in October 2007, renovating the historic structure proved to be a challenge. But after many years of waiting, the people of Winchester will soon be able to enjoy this once vibrant and significant piece of Winchester history. Through the use of historic tax credits, federal and state grants and private investment, the City’s Economic Development Authority began the restoration efforts in the fall of 2012. The renovation will be conducted in two phases.
Redevelopment: Phase II
At the completion of Phase II, the historic Taylor Hotel will be fully renovated (see rendering above), ready for commercial and residential tenants and standing tall as it once did, as the hub of downtown
Winchester. Below is a list of activities to occur during Phase II:
- First floor – The first floor of the original building will be renovated into 2,500 square feet of open-concept commercial space. Two letters of intent concerning leasing this commercial space from a regional restaurants have been submitted to the Economic Development Authority.
- English basement – The lower portion of the Taylor Hotel building will be transformed into a 2,500 square foot pub and commercial kitchen for the first floor restaurant.
- Fly tower – Retail space up to 2,500 square feet will be constructed at ground level of the fly tower. Additional development of this tower is expected after the five-year historic tax credit period.
- Upper levels – Above the restaurant on the main floor will be five two-bedroom luxury apartments totaling 1,200 square feet each. Some will have access to the front porch and some will have access to the back porch.
- Outdoor space – The large area between the main building on the Loudoun Street Mall and the fly tower on Indian Alley (collapsed portion) will become an outdoor amphitheatre, pocket park, and farmer’s market pavilion (9 stalls). This area will accommodate over 400 people during events.
- Interior framing and work on the electrical, plumbing and HVAC has begun.
- Once the elevator shaft is complete (expected completion: this week), the construction of the back porches can begin.
- Brick work is expected to begin week of July 8th.
- Interested in leasing a Taylor Hotel apartment? Contact Erik Wishneff for more information.
- Several relics were found in the walls of the Taylor Hotel during construction: a piece of stationery and a ticket from the 1890s.
Start date: October 29, 2012
Projected completion date: March 31
At the completion of Phase I, the historic Taylor Hotel building will be what developers call a “cold, dry, shell” and ready for interior improvements and exterior finishes. Below is a list of activities to occur during Phase I:
- Partial demolition – Removal of the old theatre portion (collapsed portion) and one-story addition on the south side of the building (adjacent to the alley)
- Structural stabilization – Secure the structural integrity of the original hotel (front) and fly tower (rear)
- Improve shell – The Taylor Hotel will receive a new roof and three, first-floor exterior walls
- Recreate English basement – The original building included an English basement which was removed in the 1980s. This portion of the original design will be reconstructed for additional space
December 12, 2012: Watch exclusive tour of the Taylor Hotel
Benefiting Downtown Winchester
The Taylor Hotel building has always been a focal point on the Loudoun Street Mall. Once the renovation is complete, it will finally be able to contribute to the vitality of the downtown area while offering a place to dine, live, shop and relax. See how a revitalized Taylor Hotel building can benefit downtown Winchester:
- The Taylor Hotel was identified as the second most endangered historic building in Virginia by Preservation Virginia http://preservationvirginia.org. Renovating this historic building will bring more people to Old Town Winchester and therefore improving economic vitality among surrounding merchants and restaurants.
- Currently, there is no outdoor venue for events in Old Town Winchester. The Taylor Hotel will offer a large open area for community events in a safe and scenic area in the heart of downtown.
- The farmer’s market pavilion will help to promote area growers and provide a convenient method for residents to buy locally.
- After a portion of the building collapsed on October 25, 2007 and it sat empty for many years, the Taylor Hotel was identified as being blighted by City Council. Renovating the structure, honoring its historic significance and filling it with vibrant activities will only make a positive impact on an already beautiful and bustling downtown Winchester.
In 2010, the Winchester Economic Development Authority began an Economic Market Analysis. This in-depth research, as well as the recent Citizen Satisfaction Survey and the City’s Comprehensive Plan identified several needs in downtown Winchester and many of these needs are addressed by a renovated Taylor Hotel building.
- Outdoor entertainment venue
- Blight removal
- Farmer’s market
- High-end residential space
The Economic Market Analysis recommended that the City of Winchester should strive to make Winchester attractive to individuals and families with disposable income. The Analysis identified these groups as “Retirees and empty-nest” households and “young, creative class” households. Both of these groups value walkability, easy access to services, cultural resources and recreation, and transportation choices. A renovated Taylor Hotel will improve downtown Winchester’s ability to attract these individuals and families who want to live in an urban area with amenities and entertainment within walking distance.
Revitalizing downtown Winchester ranked in the top five areas the City should focus on over the next several years according to the latest Citizen Satisfaction Survey. Renovating the Taylor Hotel will be a major milestone in the continued revitalizing efforts in the downtown area.
In 2010, the City completed a major revision of its Comprehensive Plan. With emphasis on New Urbanism and traditional neighborhood design was the result of extensive citizen participation. In September 2008, consultants facilitated meetings at each elementary school where citizens’ discussions and mapping exercises explored the city’s strengths and weaknesses. Citizens noted the lack of parks downtown, and they specifically called out the Taylor Hotel for improvement, seeking historic preservation, a safer and more vibrant downtown business environment, and a solution to blight. The new comprehensive plan, approved on May 10, 2011 includes these goals, and the Taylor Hotel renovation project is consistent with the plan.
As of 10/26/12
September 11, 2012
- Bids due for Phase I construction building stabilization and select demolition
- Low bidder for Phase I was Lantz Construction of Broadway, VA (Amount: $1,180,000).
September 25, 2012
- At the September 25th City Council Work Session, Council forwarded a resolution accepting the low bid to the October 9th Regular meeting for voting.
Week of October 29, 2012
- Phase I construction began
- Phase II construction began
Currently, the Taylor Hotel is owned by the Economic Development Authority (EDA) and a private developer. The renovation is expected to cost $3.6 million. Funding sources include the following:
- $1 million: Provided by a Community Development Block Grant
- $650,000: Invested by the City’s Economic Development Authority
- $1.95 million:
- $775,000 – Historic tax credits
- $225,000 – Private investor contributions
- $950,000 – Loans secured by the EDA