Saturday , January 28, 2017 - 4:45 AM8 comments
OGDEN — Say goodbye to the historic Ben Lomond Hotel. Say hello to the even more historic Bigelow Hotel.
Sometime in April, new signs will go up outside the stately old hotel at the southeast corner of Washington Boulevard and Historic 25th Street as it officially becomes “Bigelow Hotel and Residences.” The new name is part of a larger renovation of the hotel, which was originally built in the late 1800s.
“The change will take place just as soon as the signage is completed, around April,” said Tim Nichols, who runs the hotel for the management company Marin Management, Inc., of Sausalito, California. The hotel is owned by Norcap LLC Real Estate Investment and Development, out of Manhattan Beach, California. Norcap purchased the property in May 2016.
The Bigelow name is a nod to the early days of the 13-story structure. The hotel began as the five-story Reed Hotel in 1891, according to a history page at benlomondsuites.com. In 1927, famed Ogden architect Leslie Hodgson — known for his designs of Ogden High School and Peery’s Egyptian Theater, among others — completely reworked the building, adding 11 stories.
It was then christened the Bigelow Hotel. In 1933, Marriner S. Eccles acquired the hotel and renamed it the Ben Lomond. Today, the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Along with a new name, the hotel is in the midst of a major renovation. Nichols said they’re just putting the finishing touches on the first of a two-phase project to completely upgrade the hotel. Phase one, which should be finished by the second week of April, has involved updating the guest rooms, apartments and second-floor offices in the building. Phase two will include upgraded meeting facilities, banquet rooms and other spaces in the hotel.
“I think the community is going to be happy with the new look of the property,” Nichols said. “We’re hanging onto the historical aspect of the hotel, but infusing it with vitality and color. We’re adding some excitement to an old building.”
When completely renovated, the Bigelow Hotel and Residences will offer 83 hotel rooms, 23 apartments and 15 offices. It will also feature seven banquet rooms, with the largest holding up to 400 people.
Hotel rooms there rent for between the mid-$90s and $120 per night, depending on the room and time of year. Nichols said about a dozen of the apartments have also been renovated and rent for between $800 and $1,100 a month. The monthly rent includes cable, utilities, parking and other amenities.
“Everything we have available is already rented,” he said.
The lobby will also be completely redone, according to Nichols. They’ll keep the intricate ceiling and bannisters, but replace everything else.
By Friday, Feb. 3, a new restaurant, Bigelow Grill, will open in the first-floor space formerly occupied by MacCool’s Public House. MacCool’s lost its lease last summer and moved out at the end of July. It’s relocating a few doors south on Washington Boulevard, in the space formerly occupied by Heebeegeebeez.
“It was designed from the beginning that we’d operate our own restaurant in that space,” Nichols said. “We extended their lease two months, to assist them in moving out, but we’d always planned on using that space.”
The new Bigelow Grill will be a full-service, three-meal a la carte restaurant that Nichols describes as “upscale casual.”
“We want it to stick out and be unique,” he said. “There are some fantastic restaurants on 25th Street — we’re trying to compliment that.”
Then, in April, a second full-service restaurant with a botanical theme will open in the hotel, on the east side of the lobby. Tentatively called the Lobby Nook, it will feature small plates and tapas cuisine.
Brandon Cooper, deputy director of community and economic development for Ogden City, said the changes coming to the new Bigelow Hotel are “super exciting.”
“Obviously, the Ben Lomond is one of the pillars of the community when it comes to the building, the architecture and what it means to the community,” he said. “To get a hotel operator in there with definite plans, it’s exciting for the city.”
The Ben Lomond/Bigelow Hotel is one of only two Ascend Hotel Collection properties in the state — its sister is the Peery Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, which Nichols also runs. Ascend is the high-end brand offering from the Choice Hotels chain.
Nichols said many cities are tearing down their older buildings, so finding a gem like the Ben Lomond Hotel was a real discovery.
“When you buy an older hotel, you anticipate there are unknowns,” Nichols said. “Things like leaky pipes and bad wiring that you don’t know about until you knock down walls. But we were pleasantly surprised at the integrity of the main building. We found some small things, but all the major structural parts were sound.”
There’s also talk of converting the rooftop of the hotel’s lower section into an observation deck of sorts.
“But that’s down the road,” Nichols said.
Eventually, Nichols said the plan is to upgrade the hotel’s north entrance on 25th Street. That fits in nicely with the city’s plans to extend development east of Washington Boulevard.
“We’re looking to capitalize on the energy the hotel has generated through reopening and see if we can’t extend some of the elements on lower 25th Street up past the Ben Lomond to the library,” Cooper said. “We want to have a full extension of the 25th Street experience, with elements like light poles and sidewalk details.”
Cooper said the city is hoping to make an “arts district” out of Historic 25th Street between Jefferson and Wall avenues. Nichols looks forward to such improvements.
“As the city puts more into this push east, we’ll join with them,” he said.
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