By Kevin Wilson
Officials working on the Portales Inn Hotel are optimistic that parts of the building could be open for business come this summer.
Bill Raisbeck, a former hotel developer who lives in Portales, has been working on restoring the hotel, which hasn’t been in use for about six years.
Raisbeck is hoping for renovation to start sometime in early April.
“We have an offer in, but we have to put the right numbers,” Raisbeck said. “Lenders are waiting for a rendering, which should be done (in April).”
The plan, Raisbeck said, is to work on the four-floor hotel one floor at a time, with the fourth floor being the most labor-intensive. Raisbeck explained that some fourth-floor areas were used for apartment living and would need to be changed (removal of kitchens) to become conventional hotel rooms.
Raisbeck said he would like to have two floors operational by June or July, which would give the operation to receive capital so the entire project isn’t dependent on lenders.
As an educated guess, Raisbeck said the renovation could be completed by September.
Raisbeck is working with Steve Nishimuta, a contractor based in San Diego. Nishimuta did not return calls Wednesday afternoon for comment.
Raisbeck said that he plans to work with Portales MainStreet officials to make sure the hotel’s external appearance fits in well with the rest of the downtown area.
MainStreet Vice President Greg Erf said that Raisbeck plans a western motif for the hotel overall, but said that MainStreet will want to keep a classic design.
“We’re going to keep the same look,” Erf said. “We’re just going to upgrade the downtown because it has some character already. We want to enhance the character.”
Raisbeck figures some changes will be necessary from a business perspective, but the building will serve many purposes for the city.
“It’s a rather bland building right now. It has to have some street appeal,” Raisbeck said. “Around here, it’s going to be a hotel that still has a lot to offer. It still has a banquet room, a meeting room, and those will remain.”
Internally, Raisbeck said the biggest concerns were the heating and cooling system, fire sprinklers and an elevator, items which he said will be relatively easy to add to the current building.
Raisbeck added that office space will be available, and he is still looking for a client for the hotel’s restaurant.
“We’ve had a lot of people look at it, but (declined) because of the timing and the delays,” he said. “They want to get in (business) a little sooner than we’ve had it available.”
Raisbeck said potential restauranteurs should be serious about the business, have good food and should consider offering some type of bakery service because of the existing equipment.
Raisbeck said that he planned to stay retired after the hotel is complete, so there will be an opening for management. For the manager that does come in, Raisbeck said competition from the Holiday Inn Express (due for completion in November) probably wouldn’t be much of a factor.
“They offer a different type of facility,” said Raisbeck, who said the Holiday Inn will appeal more to business travelers. “The people who study demographics have told me this isn’t going to be a big deal. I hope they’re right.”