Newly created SHG Management LLC of Sherwood recently purchased the Legacy Hotel in downtown Little Rock for $2.85 million and plans to spend another $5 million on renovations.
The hotel, at 625 W. Capitol Ave., originally opened as the Hotel Freiderica in 1914. It was built by Arkansas Gazette business manager Fred Allsopp and designed by Theodore Marcus Sanders. In 2003, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The property was most recently owned by Southern Comfort Inns Inc., purchased it for $974,000 in November 2001. Amin Amarshi, who led Southern Comfort when it purchased the hotel, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
According to Kishan Patel, the director of operations for SHG Management, the limited liability company is made up of five partners: Parimal Patel, Bhavin Patel, Ankur Desai, Jitendra Patel and Jamak LLC.
Kishan Patel said the individual partners are from the Little Rock area and have other hotel properties. He said the group decided to purchase the Legacy in part due to its history and location. They plan to change the hotel back its original name, Hotel Frederica, after renovations are complete.
"I think most of the partners were pretty convinced that it's a nice old property with a lot of historic value to it," Kishan Patel said. "We thought … the downtown area would be a nice area to try another boutique hotel — they're starting to become a little more popular now."
He said the new owners see downtown growing and becoming a hub for business; he cited the Little Rock Technology Park, the first phase of which is scheduled to open on Main Street early next year.
"When we saw the hotel we were surprised how good of shape it was in for being 100 years old," he said. "It was supposed to be kind of a hot spot back in the day."
Although the hotel is in "good shape," Kishan Patel said the previous owner "probably did not keep up with it as well as he could have."
Renovations on the 65,000-SF building are set to begin in October and wrap up in April. The hotel will remain open throughout the multi-phase construction process. Kishan Patel said the building will undergo major cosmetic renovations but structurally will remain the same. It will be styled and designed as a "boutique" hotel, he said.
Plans include new colors on the building's exterior and a facelift of the bar, kitchen and restaurant, which the new owners plan to lease. The lobby will retain its marble floors and dark wood trim.
Each of the hotel's 86 guest rooms will be renovated with new carpeting, paint and updated bathrooms. The new owners plant to offer six or seven different room layouts. Kishan Patel described the new look as "Southern charming" and "modern historic."
The hotel will operate under the Choice Hotels flag owned by publicly traded Choice Hotels International Inc. of Rockville, Maryland. Kishan Patel said the hotel will be part of Choice's Ascend Hotel Collection, which is made up of "one-of-a-kind, upscale hotels."
The hotel underwent $2 million in renovations in 2002, shortly after Southern Comfort's acquisition. Those changes included connecting two sections of the building; adding a restaurant and meeting rooms; and reducing the number of guest rooms from 116 to 97 to incorporate more two-bedroom suites.
On the Evening News...
Legacy Hotel gets new ownership, makeover - Winnie Wright , KTHV 7:54 PM. EDT August 25, 2016
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- For over 100 years, the Legacy Hotel at the corner of Capitol Street and South Gaines Street changed along with the city.
For years it stood abandoned, then 15 years ago, it was renovated and renamed the Legacy Hotel. Now, the historic hotel has been bought again and will undergo major changes.
The Legacy Hotel has always been a favorite for legislators in Little Rock for the congressional session. During the Whitewater Affair at the federal courthouse across the street, it was flooded with reporters, looking for a view.
Since then, however, the Legacy has not left much of a legacy. Its new ownership, a group of five second-generation hotel owners, hopes to change that.
"So we are going to try to keep the historical part of the lobby. The wood, the wood trims, the marble floors; they will all remain," said SHG Management director of operations, Kishan Patel.
The hotel may be old, but the desired guests are not.
"The goal is to attract a lot of millennials, so we want to attract the younger crowd," but Patel explained, they will not discriminate. They hope there is a little something for everyone.
The renovations will begin in October with the restaurant, so hopefully, people will be drawn to the hotel even while the it is under construction.
Patel said they would like to lease the space to someone local, keeping with the vibe of the hotel.
"We have been doing business in Arkansas for years, and we feel it is important to keep the local businesses here."
The local boutique hotel concept is nothing new for big cities. In Little Rock, the only boutique hotels are the Legacy and the Capitol hotels. Patel said millennials looking for alternatives to hotel chains.
"With the boutique, it's very local. It's more charming. It's more home. You walk in, and you don't really know what you're expecting. I think that will be a good surprise for everyone."
Because the hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, SHG will not be tearing anything down, only modernizing.
The second phase will be renovating the rooms in the back portion of the hotel, making their way towards the front of the building.
"We are going to take all the furniture out and put new furniture in, new flooring, new wall coloring, the bathrooms will be redone. But, we are going to keep a lot of the old look."
Patel said the balance between modern and historic is just as important for the outside of the hotel as it is for the inside. Not only is the Legacy going to get a fresh coat of paint and a new exterior, but it is also going to get a new name.
The owners are looking at the Frederica Hotel, which is what the hotel was originally called, or the Sam Peck Hotel, which is what most people know it as.
"They've always talked about how this place was popular. They always came to the bar for happy hours and restaurants for lunches. And a lot of people stayed here because it's right across from the Federal Courthouse," Patel said.
The hotel is also looking to incorporate a shuttle to the airport and the River Market.
Patel said SHG hopes to have the renovations complete by April. The hotel will stay open while the work is done.