SIOUX CITY | The former Warrior Hotel and Davidson Building would be converted into a 146-room Marriott brand hotel under a $56 million restoration plan that also calls for transforming other space in the historic buildings into luxury apartments, bars, restaurants and other retail outlets.
Construction is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2018, with completion anticipated for summer of 2019, said Roger Caudron, a spokesman for longtime Sioux City developer Lew Weinberg, whose investment company owns the two towering structures in the 500 block of Sixth Street.
Weinberg's company has agreed to a deal with a St. Louis-based firm to develop the 200,000 square feet of combined space. The developer, Restoration St. Louis, has completed more than 300 historic renovations, which includes a similar restoration of the Blackhawk Hotel in downtown Davenport, Iowa.
As part of the agreement, Restoration St. Louis would manage the Warrior/Davidson hotel, which would be branded as a Marriott Autograph or Marriott Tribute, Caudron said. The specific line of the worldwide upscale hotel chain would be determined at a later date, he said.
Warrior/Davidson officials also continue to negotiate with city leaders, with a final plan anticipated within 15 to 30 days, Caudron said. One goal is to secure a skywalk across an alley to connect the Warrior and Davidson buildings and another bridge across Sixth Street to connect the Warrior lobby with the historic Orpheum Theatre.
Both the Warrior and Davidson are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Warrior, built in 1930, was long considered one of Sioux City's most elegant hotels, but has been vacant for more than 40 years, despite a series of efforts to bring the property back to its former grandeur. Since the late 1990s, the boarded-up structure has been red-tagged by the city for building code violations.
To comply with strict federal standards required to qualify for historic tax credits to help finance the project, Restoration St. Louis would completely restore the exterior of the brick exterior of the Art Deco-style hotel, which features Terra Cotta ornamentation and flourishes like ornate buffalo heads. The second-floor lobby, front desk and ballroom would be returned to its original look as well. The ballroom would seat roughly 350 for banquets, Caudron said.
The upper floors of the Warrior would be turned into 92 guest rooms. An additional 54 rooms would be carved out of the second, third and fourth floors of the Davidson Building, which was built in 1913 as the city's first office building.
Twenty-two upscale apartments, ranging in size from studios to three-bedrooms, would be built on the two floors of the Davidson. Apartment owners would have access to all hotel services.
"If you want a mint every night on the pillow of your bed in your apartment, arrangements can be made with the hotel," Caudron said.
A 100-seat full-service restaurant operated by the hotel is planned for the Warrior's first floor. There also would be space for a second hotel and other retail space, Caudron said.
The rooftop of the Warrior would be home to a bistro and bar called Warrior 360.
In the basement of the Warrior, amenities would include a six-lane bowling alley, swimming pool and full fitness center.
The centerpiece of the first floor would be a 100-seat, full-service restaurant that would be operated by the hotel. There would be room space for another restaurant and other retail, such as a coffee shop and barber shop.
Plans for additional space in the Davidson include the current Fuji Bay restaurant on the first floor, and perhaps another restaurant, Caudron said.
Weinberg's company now controls the entire block the Davidson and Warrior sits on, including the building that formerly housed the Crary law offices. On the Pierce Street side, north of the Davidson, there are plans to build a one-story storefront that hopefully will be home to Great Western Bank, which is the current main tenant on the first floor of the Davidson, Caudron said.
Hotel guests and patrons of the Warrior and Davidson buildings would have access to 130 surface parking spaces on the north half of the property. An additional 487 covered spaces are available across Sixth Street in the Martin Luther King Jr. Transportation Center ramp.
The Warrior/Davidson would become one of three Marriott-branded hotels planned for metro Sioux City. The Marina Inn in South Sioux City is in the process of converting to a Delta Hotels by Marriott in September. The Sioux City Council recently approved a deal with an eastern Iowa developer to build a 150-room Courtyard by Marriott in the parking lot next to the Convention Center.
The Courtyard by Marriott and a proposed parking ramp are part of the city's application for $14 million in future hotel and sales taxes through the state's Reinvestment District program. The application is awaiting final approval from the state Economic Development Authority Board.
Caudron noted the Warrior and Davidson are within the reinvestment district drawn by the city, and the restoration project would enhance the city's bid. It's too early to know whether the Warrior/Davidson developers would seek a portion of the state incentives, he added.
A number of elements of the restoration plan were incorporated into the most recent effort to save the Warrior. The historic hotel was the centerpiece of a $122 million casino project in 2013, led by Ho-Chunk Inc., the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska's economic development corporation. That Warrior project lost its bid for a state gaming license when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission instead picked a competing proposal, today's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City.
A series of Weinberg-led proposals for the Warrior have come and gone in the last three decades. Prior to the casino, there was a 2006 venture to convert the floors into dozens of apartments for low-income seniors. With proceeds of a $1 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant, Weinberg gutted the interior. But the venture failed to advance due to inadequate financing.
Since the late 1990s, the boarded-up structure has been red-tagged by the city for building code violations. The City Council could have voted to raze it at any time, but held off indefinitely due to the building's historical significance and, perhaps more importantly, the hefty price of demolition, roughly estimated at around $5 million.