By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
The deal is moving forward, and if a local developer realizes his dream, Portales could have a refurbished historic hotel downtown within two years.
Portales developer Larry Combs has the option to purchase the former Portales Inn property, which the city of Portales and the MainStreet Organization acquired earlier this month in a three-way real estate swap, according to Combs who spoke to the PNT for the first time this week about the project.
The proposed historic hotel, which Combs says he will name Casa de Portales, would have more than 45 rooms and include suites.
“If everything goes well, we can open it by December of 2007,” Combs said. “We’re going to change the whole exterior and remodel the inside.”
Combs has agreed with the city of Portales to explore the costs of remodeling the hotel. Combs said within the next six months all the architectural drawings will be done and bids will be returned on the cost of the project. He said his bank will commit up to $1 million for the project
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Combs said. “I was talking to an architect and we were considering whether it would be a destination hotel or a traveling hotel. He said with everything the hotel has to offer, we should make it a regional destination, a destination for people living in Tucumcari, Hobbs, Lovington to come and spend the weekend.”
Under Combs’ plan, Casa de Portales would have a mission-style outside decor.
Combs’ vision includes hot tubs either on the northeast corner of the first floor or on a second floor deck with a view of the downtown area.
Combs is proposing balconies where feasible and on the west end of the hotel each floor will have hospitality suites accommodating parties of up to 20.
The rooms will have stand-up showers, and suites on the fourth floor will have whirlpool spas. He also proposes to have a gym on the north side of the second floor.
Combs said electrical work will need to be done to the building including in-room heating and cooling units.
Plans call for every window in the hotel to be replaced. Brick walls will be taken out in the lobby and a fireplace will be put in on the west side and a waterfall by the south entrance. By the lobby there will also be retail space or offices.
As for the restaurant on the first floor, it will also be remodeled.
“We want to lease it out,” Combs said. “It’s a great regional restaurant that can offer American food, steaks, breakfast, and it can hold up to 80 people.”
The hotel has two meeting rooms, the largest of which can hold up to 80 people.
“It’s going to be huge for Portales and the downtown area,” Jeremy Sturm, Portales MainStreet manager, said. “It will be great for the community to have it in the heart of the downtown area. It will attract more retail and restaurants to the downtown area, and it’s going to be huge for the existing businesses.”
Danny Woodward, board president of the Portales MainStreet Organization, said the hotel would make a great first impression of Portales.
“If someone stays at the hotel and is interviewing for a job at the university, their spouse can go shopping in the downtown area,” Woodward said. “What’s good for the downtown area is good for the entire community and what’s good for other areas in Portales is good for the downtown area.”