Saturday, April 10, 2010

Priory Expansion: The Project in a Nutshell

Our Priory Hotel expansion project starts this weeks. Though our ceremonial groundbreaking took place a couple of weeks ago, due to some paperwork and permitting issues actual construction was delayed a few weeks. We are now looking at completing the project in the end of December 2010. Our contractor is Bridges Construction; architects were Denny Campbell Architecture + Design and Robert Baumbach Building Design. We are very proud of the plans, and look forward to creating a unique lodging experience in the city of Pittsburgh.

Here are the FAQs about the project:

1. Nature of the Project: The expansion project will add 17 additional guest rooms, additional meeting space, space for a new business center and fitness center, and an elevator, as well as full handicapped access through the new front door.

2. How Did the Property Which Will House the Expansion Become Available? The property on which the expansion will take place, the former 608-610 Pressley Street, had previously housed an apartment building with six units. In January 2009, that structure was gutted by fire (fortunately all residents of the building were able to evacuate safely). In February 2009, the John and Suzanne Graf and his parents Ed and Mary Ann acquired the property from its existing owners and had the remaining charred structure demolished.

3. Project Cost: The construction cost is $1.7 million construction. The overall cost of the project is $2.25 million, including land acquisition costs, archtects and other fees, new furnishings, etc.

4. General Contractor: Bridges & Company, North Side. Project Manager is Bob Fitzgerald.

5. Financing: $1.5 million by First National Bank; $250,000 by North Side Community Development Fund

6. Ground Breaking: Ceremonial ground breaking, which included a visit by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, took place on March 4, 2010. Actual work began in early April 2010.

7. Expected Date of Completion: December 31, 2010

8. Project Details:

a. Construction Type: The new addition will be completely new construction. Some work in the existing Priory Hotel structure will need to occur as well, including the expansion of laundry facilities and of boilers/ hot water heaters.

b. “Look” of the Project: The exterior of the new structure, in keeping with the residential character of the neighborhood, is designed to look like a late 19th century mansion townhouse, the type of which may still be observed around the Allegheny Commons Park on the North Side. It will be three and a half stories tall, and will feature gables on the top floor and a mansard slate room The interior is designed to look identical to the existing Priory Hotel, so that guests will have a seamless experience inside the property. The new structure will be joined to the existing building on all three upper floors and its lower level. An elevator will be installed at the juncture of the two structures, permitting guests easy elevator access to all four floors of the structures.

c. Square Footage: Approximately 7,000 square feet

d. Number of Additional Guest Rooms: 17

e. Type of New Guest Rooms: 15 of the new guestrooms will offer one King bed; 2 of the new guestrooms will have one Queen bed. The addition will also present three fully accessible handicapped guest rooms. All guest rooms will offer state of the art hotel amenities.

f. Guest Room Design: The interior design of the new guest rooms will be in keeping with the look of the existing guest rooms, i.e., with antique and reproduced furnishings and decorations from the late Victorian/ early Edwardian era. All new guest rooms will be fully wired for data transfer and high speed Internet access, as well as for WiFi.

g. Meeting Space: The new addition will have 600 square feet of new meeting space, which will be able to be divided into thirds for break out space.

h. Fitness Center: The lower level of the addition will house the Priory’s new fitness facility. Though the Priory Hotel currently offers a fitness center, the new facility will be larger and easier to access.

i. Elevator: A big change for guests at the Priory will be the addition of an elevator. Guests must now ascend and descend to their guestrooms by stairs only,
9. Short History of the Priory Hotel and Grand Hall: Edward and Mary Ann Graf acquired the property on which the Priory Hotel and its sister facility, Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory, is located in 1985. The Priory property, built in 1888, served as a rectory and Benedictine monastery; the Grand Hall property, built in 1854, had served until 1981 as the St. Mary’s Catholic Church. The Grafs had purchased the property from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation at auction, after plans to raze the structures to make way for the new Interstate 279 fell through. In November 1986, following a year long renovation, the Grafs opened the Priory Hotel. Subsequently, after many years of bureaucratic delay, the Grafs, this time along with son John and daughter in law Suzanne, were able to open Pittsburgh’s Grand Hall at the Priory in the former St. Mary’s Church. The Grand Hall serves as a full service banquet facility, hosting weddings, parties and other events.

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