Whitesburg KY
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Contract for first phase of old hotel project ready for signing

Daniel Boone Hotel first opened this week in 1920

The contract for Phase 1 of renovations to the Daniel Boone Hotel is expected to be signed today (Wednesday), two years after renovations were expected to begin.

Structural Systems Repair Group (SSRG) of Cincinnati, which has renovated many of the buildings in that city’s historic Over-The- Rhine district, will begin work on the building on or before August 1, according to the contract.

The project will stabilize the 100-year-old hotel building and replace the roof and floors, which have partially collapsed. The city will seek additional money in the coming months to continue restoration efforts.

Renovations have faced one delay after another as more potential problems with the renovations have arisen. The city received the hotel as a donation from the Dawahare family in 2010, but didn’t have the money to restore it.

“We’ve been scouring the country for money to fix it ever since then,” Mayor James Wiley Craft said.

The city received a $1 million Community Development Block Grant in 2017, but requirements for studies on asbestos, lead paint, structural integrity, the stability of the ground the building sits on, and two feasibility studies have delayed it repeatedly. In the meantime, the front third of the roof collapsed, taking three floors with it, and the bid received for renovation came in too high, causing a redesign of the structure.

“I used to be a young man when I started this,” architect Bill Richardson joked. “I’ve aged 100 years.”

Craft said he’s looking forward to seeing work start.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “It looks like it’s a go finally.”

More upbeat now that a bid has been awarded, Richardson said he is very happy with the contractor that bid. He said SSRG has been involved in many of the historic renovations in the Over-The-Rhine District in Cincinnati, one of the largest historic districts in the country with 1,200 buildings built mostly between 1865 and the 1880s. Its previous projects in Over-The-Rhine include the Cincinnati Music

Hall, the Cincinnatian Hotel, and the St. Paul’s German Evangelical Church. Richardson said SSRG has done well over 100 renovations of historic buildings. Others include the Stuart Opera House in Nelsonville, Ohio, and the Clark County Courthouse in Winchester.

The work to be done now on the Daniel Boone includes demolition and removal of the parts that have either already collapsed or are structurally unsound, rebuilding the bearing walls and floors, replacing the roof and “drying in” the building to prevent more water damage.

The second phase of work, expected to cost $2.5 million, will include installation of interior drywall and paint, floor finishes, and plumbing stubbed out for connection, called “white box” condition. The final phase would include fixtures and completion of the building.

When finished, the hotel is expected to include 42 rooms and a rooftop penthouse.

Craft said a second feasibility study required by the government came after the Whitesburg Motel closed, leaving the Parkway Inn as the only motel in Letcher County. As a result, the second feasibility study showed an even greater need for rooms here than the first, which was used to award the first grant.

“We need a boutique hotel, and that’s what this will be when it’s finished,” Craft said.

Construction of the Daniel Boone Hotel originally began in 1919, and the hotel opened for business Independence Day weekend in 1920.

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