By Tony Parra
The Portales Inn may be full of life once again as a prospective contractor, Steve Nishimuta of San Diego, Calif. is in the process of renovating it and having a restaurant on the bottom floor for when it opens.
Mayor Orlando Ortega presented an incentive package proposal to city councilors for the prospective business owners during Tuesday’s council meeting, and the councilors approved it.
Ortega and city councilors approved a resolution authorizing a project agreement between the city of Portales and Portales Inn, Inc. for the use of economic development tax revenues to purchase, renovate and operate the hotel and restaurant.
“It will be an incredible boost,” Ortega said. “It’s an anchor to the downtown community. We want to asphalt the parking lot and improve the area. (Nishimuta) has always been of the idea to renovate the facility and open a restaurant and meeting room.”
The Portales Inn has been vacant for more than five years and Nishimuta is in the process of purchasing the property from Western Bank in Clovis.
Bill Raisbeck of Portales was also instrumental in bringing in the new business. Ortega said Raisbeck, a former developer, is a friend of Nishimuta and that the two are experts in refurbishing large buildings.
Raisbeck is working in a partnership with Nishimuta for the renovation of the building. Raisbeck said the purchase of the building has been made and negotiations are finished. He said he was a specialty contractor who worked with Nishimuta, a general contractor, in California. Raisbeck said he retired in 2002 and moved to Portales due to health problems.
“I’ve helped remodel Hiltons and Embassy Suites,” Raisbeck said. “We know the hotel business and construction. He (Nishimuta) deals with the administrative and I deal with the material.”
Raisbeck said the hotel has 48 rooms and the structure is good with 14-inch thick walls. He said they would like to have a restaurant, but would have to have someone else run it.
Raisbeck said they would like to create a theme for the hotel, perhaps a western theme. Raisbeck said a change to the outside of the building and setup would need to take place for that. The entry to the Portales Inn was on the south end of the building, but Raisbeck believes the entry should be on the north side of the building facing Second Street and the parking lot which has Justus Realty on it.
“It’s not legal to have a hotel without a bigger parking lot,” Raisbeck said about the two additional parking lots purchased by the city. “Code requires 52 parking spaces for the amount of rooms.”
Raisbeck said renovation work would start on the first floor and they would work their way up. He said construction work will start once all of the paperwork is completed.
The agreement is to purchase the two parking lots, one on the north end of the Portales Inn, where Justus Realty is located, and another on the south end of Sheila’s Classy to Whimsy Ladies Apparel. Both parking lots are currently owned by Yucca Telecommunications.
“We sent out an agreement on May 12,” Scott Arnold, Yucca Telecommunications manager, said. “I know they (city officials) have been wanting to purchase the parking lots under the terms of the agreement. We were very open to having it for public use and to help bring downtown businesses.”
Arnold said an agreement on the purchase of the property has not been signed by Yucca Telecommunications officials. Ortega said Debi Lee, city manager and Stephen Doerr were instrumental in bringing in the new business.
Ortega said Nishimuta has flown in to take a tour and inspection of the building.
“We invited Mr. Nishimuta and gathered information about the building,” Ortega said. “Stephen Doerr has been very involved from the beginning. He’s a community advocate and a Mainstreet board member. It takes everyone working together to bring businesses. To create economic development we have to create partnerships and work together to make it happen.”
The city of Portales offered an incentive package which includes purchasing two parking lots for $78,000.
The total cost will not exceed $153,529, which will come out of the economic tax fund. The economic tax fund is built up through a gross receipts tax of 1/8 cent. The incentive package includes the costs of design and landscaping of the parking lots in the amount not to exceed $46,968, and the city of Portales will pay for the utilities not to exceed $45,000 for a period of five years after the hotel is open and in operation.
The combined costs of utilities and landscaping should not exceed $75,529.
Neither Nishimuta or Doerr could be reached for comment.