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September 20, 2013

Kickstarting this Cadillac

GREENVILLE — A grass roots effort is being launched to try and raise money toward the redevelopment of one of downtown Greenville’s landmark buildings.

Alyssa Sandquist with JRA Ideations Development said the plan is to restore the former Washington/Cadillac Hotel in stages, by offering individuals opportunities to contribute to the project.

“We are looking for people to put something of themselves into the City of Greenville and maybe get something back,” Sandquist said of the proposal to transform the vacant six-story brick structure at 2612 Washington Street into a combination of lofts and retail space.

Built in 1926, the Washington was once one of the finest hotels in Texas. The name changed to the Cadillac Hotel and it was still in use as an apartment building during the mid-to-late ‘60s. But the structure eventually fell victim to vacancies, abandonment, neglect and vandalism.

The effort is launching this week on Facebook, with an initial of raising approximately $5,000 in donations through www.gofundme.com/4dnjvs.

“That is basically to cover the paperwork,” Sandquist said.

From there, the organization will either look at buying the property outright, at a cost of approximately $1 million, or enter into a lease agreement with the current owner of the building.

The plan then calls for renovating the first floor into restaurants, clubs and/or retail, with the second floor set up for the administrative offices.

“We are going to convert the building into a series of lofts,” Sandquist said of the proposal to add the residences to the third through fifth floors. The sixth floor would be a suite, available for use on special occasions.

 Sandquist said the property would be a key carded community, with 24 hour security and would designed as an “all inclusive building”, with all utility bills paid and with staff available to answer the needs of residents. There would also be a free laundry room and weight room.

“When you do live there, everything is taken care of,” Sandquist said. “We have some amazing plans for the rooftop deck.”

The roof would be transformed into a spot where residents and visitors can watch everything from the moon and stars to parades and fireworks on July 4.

“That’s one of the amazing things about the rooftop deck, is the view,” Sandquist said.

The property has been the focus of renovation proposals in the past.

In 2008, Landmark Asset Services/Fitch Development received tax credits from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), which developers said were needed to make a similar renovation project financially viable, due to the estimated $300,000 to $400,000 worth environmental liability from asbestos and other problems inside the structure.

At that time, the proposed renovation was estimated at $6 million, although construction on the project was never begun.

Sandquist said the current proposal would benefit not only those living in the building, but also all of downtown.

“We want to provide a network of amenities for our residents, but also for the general public,” she said. “We know there are a lot of people in Greenville that would like to see that happen.”

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