Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Hotel Wing Set to Open on January 1!!

I have, unfortuantely, been a bad blogger in recent months. This is due to our hotel expansion kicking into high gear the last three months. We are now set to open on January 1, 2011. Here's the skinny:

We are nearly there – after more than a year of planning and nine months of construction, our new wing is set to open January 1, 2011, just in time for the Winter Classic. The new wing will expand our capacity by 17 guestrooms to give us a total of 42 (not including our three off-site long term stay properties) – an expansion of more than 70%! In addition to the opening of the new wing, we are proud to announce some other major changes, including adding a bar in the existing hotel facility, increasing the size of our front desk and reception area, and upgrading our existing hotel rooms and amenities. .

Here’s the highlights of the new wing and some of our other changes:

1. Project Cost: Total cost of the project is $2.7 million, which includes $2.3 million for property acquisition and construction cost.

2. Project Highlights:

a. Construction Type: The new addition is completely new construction. Some work in the existing Priory Hotel structure did occur, including the installation of boilers and hot water heaters and the expansion of the laundry facilities. The exterior features a brick face along with limestone window sills and accents.

b. Exterior Design: 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 is three and a half stories tall, and features gables on the top floor and a mansard slate roof.

c. Interior Design – Halls and Common Areas: The common areas of the new wing are designed to blend seamlessly into the existing building. The new structure is joined to the existing building on all three upper floors and its lower level. Samples of the woodwork in the existing hotel, including baseboards, chair rails and crown molding, were removed from the building and sent to the woodworking shop to be copied for the new structure. Light fixtures from the existing facility were removed and placed in the new building to create a seamless look to both the original and the new.

d. Interior Design: Guestrooms: While looking to preserve a classic look and feel, guestrooms in the addition have been designed to appeal to modern tastes, with larger bathrooms and vanity areas, lots of granite, and clean lines. First and second floor guestrooms feature 14 foot high ceilings, and all of the new rooms feature a corridor leading to the main living space from the common hallway. Interior design was by Neill Stouffer of Richard Lawrence Interiors.

e. Furnishings: Most guestroom furnishings were provided by Kincaid Furniture of Hudson, NC. The furnishings, which are in the “Louis Philippe” style, are made of solid maple.

f. Art Work: The art work gracing the walls of the new addition offer a mixture of 19th century French and American lithographs and prints along with some unique 20th century works, including antique prints showing the nationality rooms at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. Most of the artwork was provided by Kurt Shaw of Shaw Galleries, downtown.

g. Square Footage: Overall square footage of the addition is approximately 10,000 square feet. Guest room square footage ranges from approximately 300 square feet to 330 square feet.

h. Number of Additional Guest Rooms: 17

i. Bed Sizes: 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. The guest rooms in the new wing are designated as “Classic King” and “Classic Queen.”

j. 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. (Opening mid to late January)

k. 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. (New Fitness Center opening mid to late January)

3. Something New, Something Different:

a. Elevator: A big change for guests at the Priory will be the addition of an elevator, a new and major convenience for our guests and staff. (Available January 6, 2011)

b. Room Access: Guests will now access all guestrooms by using a key card with state of the art RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Device) technology. The existing hotel, which uses an old fashioned metal key on a large fob, which guests turn into the Front Desk when not occupying their room, have been retrofitted with the new locks. The new RFID locks will offer guests more flexibility and convenience, as well as heightened security.

c. “Monks’ Bar”: The Priory has converted one its sitting rooms on the first floor of the existing facility into the “Monks’ Bar.” A cozy 14 seat tavern in the tradition of European hotel bars, the Monks’ Bar will offer a panoply of top shelf liquors, wines and beers, as well as light food. The highlights of the Monk’s Bar will be the newly installed hardwood maple floor and walk-in wall safe which now safeguards our bar supplies. (Opening Mid to Late January)

d. Front Desk: The Front Desk has been expanded to accommodate two work stations, with a much bigger room now that we have demolished a wall which had been put in earlier to create a small front office. The new Front Desk will feature a custom designed and made maple desk, with a custom crafted granite transaction surface.

e. Parking Lot: We are upgrading our existing Nash Street parking lot, around the corner from the front of the hotel and the main hotel lot on Pressley Street. We’ve already installed two new light poles and four new floodlights, as well as creating new landscaping and plantings. The lot will be completely surrounded by fence, and ingress and egress will be controlled by RFID key cards. (Projected Completion: early February).

4. Project Team:

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

b. Architect: Denny Campbell Architects, LLC, Sewickley/ North Side. Lead architect is Bob Baumbach.

c. Interior Designer: Neill Stouffer, Richard Lawrence Design, Strip District.

d. Artwork Supplier: Kurt Shaw, Shaw Galleries, Downtown.

5. Ground Breaking: Ground breaking took place on Wednesday, March 3, 2010; construction began April 4, 2010.

6. Date Guest Rooms are Available to Be Occupied: December 31, 2010.

7. How Did the Property for the Addition 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 Grafs acquired the property from its existing owners and had the remaining charred structure demolished.