Equally worthy of a toast is the fact that, by transforming the former Executive Plaza building into The Bristol Hotel, McCall will be using the building for its original intent.
Built in the 1920s by Dr. Hardin W. Reynolds, the Reynolds Building, later known as the Executive Plaza building, was originally meant to be a hotel until the owner, after breaking ground, chose to make it a business building after he learned another hotel was being constructed nearby.
Now, nearly a century later, Reynolds’ original vision is coming to fruition with the hotel expected to open in late August, McCall said during a Thursday tour of the building.
“This building was built in the 1920s. It was the Reynolds Arcade. Over the years, it eventually became the Executive Plaza. My father bought the building in the 1980s when it was the Executive Plaza. Then, over time, most of the tenants left and it came to a point, ‘What do we do with the building?’ Do we try another use?’ Ultimately, a boutique hotel made the most sense,” McCall said.
In 2015, McCall’s project really began progressing when it received a $1.2 million no-net-loss economic development grant from the city, followed by a $750,000 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.
“That was our initial seed capital, and from there, we went and pursued historical tax credits. But as we’re doing all this, costs kept going up. So as we’re chasing capital, we’re also chasing construction costs. Eventually, we reached a point where I turned them loose to do the demolition (and) sort of start the train because I knew the cost would continue to go up. So we took some risk, but I think it was a smart risk,” McCall said.
Facing Cumberland Street and next to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, The Bristol Hotel, towering seven stories above the street, will feature 65 guest rooms, seven junior suites and one top-floor executive suite.
One of its most intriguing amenities will be Bristol’s only rooftop bar, called the Lumac Rooftop, with sweeping views of the Appalachian Mountains and downtown Bristol. Vivian’s Table, named after McCall’s mother, will be a family-style restaurant located on the first floor serving sophisticated Southern cuisine with locally sourced ingredients.
Inside the hotel, plenty of work remains before August, including flooring and some painting. McCall said crews are simultaneously working on the seventh floor and lobby.
“We basically start at the seventh floor and work our way down so that we finish at the second floor, and then all of the work on the first floor is happening simultaneously. Hopefully, it’s all dovetailing to finish and open at the same time,” McCall said.
Once construction contractor BurWil Construction is completed, likely sometime in late July, then the furniture, fixtures, beds, decorations and equipment will be installed, McCall said.
McCall said the project wouldn’t be possible without his partnership with Charlestowne Hotels, which will manage the hotel once it opens. Kevin Kruse, who joined the Thursday tour, will serve as the hotel’s general manager.
“Our management company, Charlestowne Hotels, they came early on. That was really important. I’ve never done a hotel. I’ve done a lot of other things, but this was a very unique project,” McCall said. “It wouldn’t have happened without them.”
As far as pricing, Gavin Philipp, vice president of operations for Charlestowne Hotels, said The Bristol Hotel will be priced near the top of the market.
“We will be priced, generally, at the top of the market for the Tri-Cities region, but we’re not going to be priced astronomically above everybody else. We’ll be competitive,” Philipp said.
Once at full employment, The Bristol Hotel will employ roughly 75 full-time equivalent positions.
Although it won’t be open for this year’s August race at Bristol Motor Speedway, McCall expects the hotel will be ready during this year’s Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion festival in September.