EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE FINAL REPORT-The Reuse Study of the Spina Hotel April 2001
In June 2000, CREDI, Cuyuna Range Economic Development, completed contract negotiations with the Minnesota Historical Society and contracted a Reuse Study for the Spina Hotel. In July, CREDI appointed Thomas A. Zahn Associates as the team to conduct the study. The following excerpts are from the Executive Summary of the Final Report, containing 44 pages, submitted by Thomas A. Zahn Associates.
On August 14,2000 a team of three consultants began a three-day visit to Ironton to study the potential of reusing the Spina Hotel. The team members inspected the commercial and residential building, toured the community and the surrounding region, and held nearly 20 confidential interviews with a variety of citizens, family owners, government officials, and representatives of organizations, that have an interest in the Spina Hotel. The team also interviewed individuals who could provide additional expertise for the reuse analysis, or who were, seen as potential tenants. This report, its analysis, and recommendations are the products of that study, which was completed in the fall of 2000.
During the three-day on-site consultation, the team considered the following list of alternatives for the reuse of the Spina Hotel:
This alternative assumes that the Spina Hotel's location at Ironton's major downtown intersection, near a relatively new State Recreation Area, and in a major recreational region of the state, make it a strong candidate for a short- term lodging reuse. This alternative also assumes that the second floor rooms be redeveloped, and reconfigured if necessary for and bed and breakfast type lodging and that the commercial bays will be redeveloped to attract tourism type clientele.
This alternative assumes that the original room configuration on the second floor of the Spina could be reconfigured into apartments. This alternative also assumes that the commercial bays of the first floor will be redeveloped to support the residential use above.
This alternative assumes that the Spina Hotel's first floor was designed to house a variety of commercial uses-originally including a bar/lounge, restaurant, hotel lobby, barber shop, and the post office. This alternative assumes that the best possible reuse is to return the first floor to uses similar to the original. Therefore this alternative would consider lounge/restaurant/ coffee house uses, commerce that would support and complement the uses on the second floor, and/or businesses that cater to the recreations opportunities in the area.
This alternative assumes that the building could support a variety of commercial uses. The first floor commercial components of the complex could be returned to functional commercial space and/or services such as the dentist
office. The upper story could be converted to office space. This use might include, but not be limited to offices for professional services, health services, and the existing dental office.
This alternative assumes a combination of lodging, residential, business, and office reuses described above.
Because of the requirements of financing, developing and managing a project of this scale and complexity, the consultation team was required to consider a variety of ownership scenarios for the property.
Total Family Ownership:
This alternative assumes that the present owner, the Perpich family, retains total ownership of the property and that the owner will find the means and talent to redevelop the property.
Partial Family Ownership/Partnership:
This alternative assumes that the family will share in the costs and rewards of the redevelopment of the Spina. It assumes that an arrangement could be made where the Perpich family would maintain shares in the development comparable to the property's present value. It also assumes that the redevelopment will acknowledge the family's wish to provide a life estate for the two family members that now reside in the building. This alternative also assumes that private investors and a developer could be found to redevelop the property.
Outside Private Ownership:
This alternative assumes that the Perpich family would be willing to sell the hotel under certain conditions, such as a life estate residence, and/or the retention of the dentist office storefront. This alternative assumes that a private owner or owners will finance, develop and manage the renovation project.
For an historic building to successfully be renovated and put back into a productive reuse in the community, a variety of important factors must be considered:
The building must be worthy of the often-large renovation investment.
The Spina Hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The building retains most of its original exterior appearance.
The main architectural elements that have been removed are -flat -entrance canopies that once defined the hotel lobby entrance on- Curtis Avenue, and the two comer commercial storefront entrances. Over the years the first floor commercial and the Curtis Avenue facade experienced other changes, which include the removal of the prism glass transoms and the replacement of the large plate glass display windows. The upper story remains basically as designed.
The hotel lobby in the center bay on Curtis Avenue retains most of its architectural features including the registration desk, the side writing desks, the beam ceiling, early 20th-century woodwork, and the ceramic tiled floor. The commercial space at the comer of Curtis and Fourth Street (the northwest comer) displays a decorative pressed tin ceiling, the original ceramic tile floor, an early linear bar, and vintage side booths. The old post office space at the northern end of the building, displays most of its original finishes. The upper story retains its original wide public corridor and the individual rooms with adjoining baths. Many of the original light fixtures still remain throughout the building.
Preservation of the building should have broad community support.
Retention and renovation of the Spina Hotel appears to have support from the local preservation community with reserved support from the City administrative offices. The community support is based upon awareness that this is a significant historic architectural resource as well as being the largest and most architecturally interesting building on Ironton's main streetscape.
As the general population has seen most of the area's early architectural heritage lost to neglect or to misguided modernization interest in preserving the structure has grown.
The renovated building must have a viable reuse including long-term prospective tenants.
The most compatible reuse for a historic building is generally the use for which it was originally designed-in this case short term lodging in the upper story with retail and service tenants in the first floor commercial bays. With an increase in recreational uses in the area and the apparent lack of lodging with genuine ambiance, the prospects of a successful lodging reuse seem high. However, the success of the project will depend upon a quality effort in renovating the hotel into a lodging facility that meets the need of contemporary tourism. This may require the addition of more bathrooms, the expansion of room dimensions, and introducing commercial uses at grade that complement the tourism trade.
Compatible Reuse: The reuse must be compatible with the surrounding land uses, including adequate and adjacent parking for the prospective guests and uses. The Spina's location-at the major intersection of Fourth Street (State Highway 210) and the main crossing commercial avenue give the structure high visibility and it could continue to serve as the most significant commercial block in Ironton's small downtown. The building offers a variety of generic storefront spaces that could easily be adapted to supportive retail and hospitality uses. The site also has an area for off-street parking to the west of the structure and angled parking along Curtis Avenue. Unlike most buildings that have been studied for reuse the Spina Hotel seems to have adequate parking to meet its limited needs.
The building, once renovated, should generate enough revenue to support operating costs and the debt service.
The renovation of the Spina's shell, the replacement of the deteriorated roof, the rehabilitation of the commercial interiors, the potential introduction of an elevator, and the reconfiguring of the room layouts on the second story are conservatively estimated to cost approximately $800,000. It should be determined how the debt service on all or a portion of that investment win be paid off. Clearly, the storefront contains potentially desirable commercial spaces-spaces that could begin to pay for their own renovation. The bottom line will be one of ownership and effective management once the property is renovated for reuse.
The Spina Hotel has some distinct advantages for potential redevelopment compared to many historic properties. It is relatively intact, retaining its most its important architectural features inside and out, it is well located in the
community with ample on and off-street parking, and it contains a variety of spaces suitable for a mixture of uses.
After touring the building and holding three days of interviews, the consultation team makes the following recommendations:
The Spina should be renovated for a bed and breakfast type lodging or apartment use on the second floor and supporting commercial on the first floor.
Under any reuse scenario, rehabilitation and operation of the Spina Hotel will be an extremely complex undertaking.
Funding for a costly rehabilitation is likely to require a combination of private investment capital and loans as well as tax incentives and other types of public funding. Putting together and managing such a complex funding package is likely to present some significant administrative challenges. The rehabilitation would also be a complex construction project, with its own share of challenges as architects, contractors and suppliers are hired and managed. Once the rehabilitation is complete, the owners win face yet another challenge as they manage the Spina's day-to-day operations, finding tenants, hiring staff, monitoring cleaning and housekeeping activities, and taking care of repairs and ongoing maintenance. Successfully financing, rehabilitating, and managing the Spina for the long term is likely to require financial resources and specialized knowledge that may not be available solely from the current building owners.
The redevelopment and management of the renovated property should be handled by professionals well versed in building redevelopment and business practices.
Given the complexity of the ownership/developer/manager chemistry of this property it is important to first determine what management and ownerships models the present owners might be willing to consider.
The hotel has been owned by the Perpich family for nearly 50 years and the family has stated a strong desire to play a role in any redevelopment effort. However, the family must determine if they are willing to share control of the redevelopment of the Spina Hotel, or if they would prefer to cash out of the property with family residential and office needs provided by a new owner.
CREDI-Cuyuna Range Economic Development Inc., should work with the Perpich family to secure a fair and just appraisal of the building to determine the family's share in the rehabbed value of the property.
CREDI should work to find a developer/owner who would be willing to renovate the Spina. The redevelopment might also include continuing dental office use as well as providing new housing within the property for the two family members that presently reside in the building.
CREDI should work with the partnership to secure appropriate and complementary commercial uses for the bays along Curtis Street. If the second story is developed for bed & breakfast uses, the first floor might Ideally provide some food services, tourism and recreational use commercial. If the second story is developed into apartments, the first floor might ideally provide commercial services directed more to residential needs.
To protect the historic resource from further deterioration, the building needs to be sealed from the elements. Water infiltration has proven to be the Spina's greatest natural enemy.
The owners should work with local financial institutions to secure funding to repair the roof and the associated roof-drainage problems.
A major way to develop community support for this project would be to improve the building's physical appearance. Minor, highly visible changes would be relatively inexpensive to realize, could be achieved quickly, would have visual impact, and ultimately render broader acceptance and respect for the project.
The storefronts should be restored to include large plateglass display windows, open the transom windows to the interior, and restore the commercial glass doors and sidelights.
The decorative cornice, columns and window cap panels should he sanded, repaired if necessary, primed, and painted in historic colors compatible with the cream colored brick.
The entrance canopies over the hotel lobby and two diagonal corner entries should ultimately be re-hung at the lobby and corner entrances.
Based upon the analysis contained in the report, the team further recommends that the renovation of the Spina Hotel
be approached incrementally:
-Stabilize the building shell-repair roof; -Secure partner(s) in the renovation of the structure; Negotiate incremental code upgrades for building occupancy; Renovate the street façade; Secure tenants for the storefronts;;Renovate and improve the second floor layout for a lodging or apartment reuse; Secure partner(s) for the management of the lodging portion
The full report is available for review in the CREDI office. Copies are available for $45.00 and includes mailing.
For more information on Cuyuna Range Historical Preservation, please visit: