$12 Million Hotel Project a Catalyst for Downtown Grand Island


Developers announced plans Thursday for a $12 million redevelopment project in downtown Grand Island, centered on turning a historic building into a luxury hotel.

Zachary Z. Zoul, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hospitality Advisors Group announced

"You can't walk into a beautiful building like this and not envision something great," Angela Dowd said.

She has big dreams for the space, bringing two Grand Island classics together. The family behind Dreisbach's plans to bring back a full service restaurant in the historic Masonic Temple...

"I always said if I was going to do something, it had to be historic setting where it was a great building with character and history that that's exactly what we got with this place," she said.

That's the vision cast by Zachary Zoul, who heads up development of the Nebraskan Hotel.

Zoul said it won't be easy. The building is structurally sound, but requires millions in upgrades to bring it up to code.

He's assembled a local team to make it happen.

"What we're doing is a community project. If you were doing it as a highly profitable business, you'd do it somewhere else other than downtown. So you have to believe in it," he said.

It'll feature 50 guest rooms, valet service, a spa, lounge, retail shops, and more, leading redevelopment of an entire downtown block.

"Springboard a revolution and this project would be that catalyst project," Amos Anson said. He will be the construction manager, and his family's Chocolate Bar will have a second downtown location inside the hotel.

Zoul said they will seek public help, and city officials say it's the kind of project that meets all the criteria, because it would breathe new life into a rundown building with potential to spur more development.

"It'll be a game changer for our community," Zoul said.

Zoul said they are building the hotel to "four diamond" hospitality standards, which would be the only hotel of that class outside of Omaha in the state.

He noted it would offer guest services including bell service, valet parking, room service, dry cleaning, and shoe shine.

Not only would it consist of 60,000 square feet on the eight levels of the Masonic building but also three levels of the Bartenbach building, and two levels of the Rexall building.

The hotel would feature space for weddings and other events, with two ballrooms -- the "Governor's Ballroom" and the "Grand Ballroom".

A recent study of downtown Grand Island suggested the area could benefit from a boutique hotel. The study said downtown needed a "catalyst" project to further redevelopment efforts.

Local architect Marvin Webb has designed the building exterior renderings, floor plans and functional elements of the hotel. Zoul and Webb are joined by other local business people on the development team, including attorney Dan Thayer, accountant Dave Faimon, plus Dan Fogland of Copycat Printing and contractor Amos Anson, who also owns and operates the Chocolate Bar in downtown Grand Island.

The goal is to open the hotel on January 1, 2015.


Guest Rooms: The hotel will feature 50 luxurious guest rooms appointed with contemporary amenities including plasma televisions, DVD players, cd players, wireless internet, fine linens and accessories, superb baths with walk-in tile showers, robes, and pillow choices. The interior decor and furnishings will be of a classic design. There are 5 two room suites. There are 15 King bedded rooms and 35 Queen bedded rooms. Each suite and many of the rooms will be named after famous Nebraskans.

Dining: Fine dining will be provided by Grand Island's legacy restaurant – Dreisbach's. Dreisbach's is a Grand Island tradition dating back to 1932. It has a reputation for distinctive food and service and is a home town favorite with continuous family ownership maintained by current owner Angela Dowd. Dreisbach's not only has a strong local familiarity and reputation, but has been enjoyed by visitors and travelers to Grand Island from across the country and world. The restaurant will comprise the entire fourth floor of the building and the dining room will consist of 2,000 square feet and seat up to 150 patrons. The restaurant will serve lunch and dinner. Room service will be offered. Breakfast and casual lunch will be served by the C Bar Reserve.

Coffee Shop/Bakery: The 1,750 square foot facility will feature a gourmet coffee shop and bakery that will serve breakfast daily and light lunch fare. It will feature a full array of distinctive coffee and pastries in a casual bistro setting. The C Bar Reserve will be operated by Amos and Sharena Anson, owners of the Chocolate Bar. Through their existing establishment – which will continue to operate as a sister property – the Ansons have demonstrated their ability to bring a high quality level of service and product to the food and beverage segment in Grand Island.

Island Spa: The Island Spa will offer a full array of spa services including massage, hair salon, and pedicure/manicure along with a line of distinctive health and beauty products in a 1,500 square foot facility located on the lower level of the hotel accessed by a grand stairwell from the Hotel Lobby.

SkyView Lounge: The SkyView Lounge will be located on the fifth floor of the building and will offer panoramic views of Grand Island and – on a clear day – areas as far as Wood River. Consisting of 600 square feet, the Lounge will seat 50 patrons. The lounge will be operated by Zoul Hospitality, owner of Nebraska Bottle Market.

Lobby Lounge: The Lobby will feature in its Lobby courtyard an intimate Lounge that will operate on weekends and during special events and receptions.

Retail Shops: The existing Bartenbach Interior and Design will be retained on the 1st floor of the building occupying two of its existing three storefronts. An additional retail shop will be located at the corner of Locust Street and Second Street. Retail kiosks will be located in the Lobby featuring Nebraska gifts, books, and apparel.

Fitness Center: A Fitness Center will be located on the lower level of the hotel equipped with treadmill, elliptical machine, free weights, and other state of the art exercise equipment.

Business Center: A Business Center featuring computers, copy machine, fax machine, and work area will be located in the Lobby near the Front Desk.

Banquet and Event Facilities: The cornerstone of the project is two majestic ballroom spaces that will serve weddings, receptions, parties, reunions, meetings, conferences, and special events. These spaces are, perhaps, unequalled in outstate Nebraska. They are beautiful, ornate spaces that have been exceedingly well preserved. The Governor's Ballroom will be located on the fifth floor and consist of 1,665 square feet with the ability to accommodate up to 150 guests. The Grand Ballroom is located on the sixth floor and consists of 2,725 square feet including the reception hall and has the ability to accommodate up to 225 guests.

Dinner Theatre: Operating in conjunction with the Grand Ballroom on the 6th floor, the 7th floor mezzanine level offers balcony seating for the use of the Ballroom as a dinner theatre and as a setting for musical events and performances.

Catering Services: Catering services for the ballroom and event spaces will be provided by Dreisbach's restaurant.

Lobby: The Hotel Lobby will be located on the first floor of the current Masonic Temple building and will feature a lounge area with a waterfall glass wall, center courtyard and lounge, retail kiosks, business center, and Front Desk. The Lobby with its reception area will welcome guests in a classic, traditional style and decor reminiscent of the grand historic hotels of the early 1900's.

Offices: Hotel offices will be located on the first floor of the Bartenbach building utilizing two of the storefront bays.

Project Site

Site: The Hotel will span the block of Locust Street between 2nd Street and 3rd Street. It will bring together three historic building which will be interconnected at the 2nd floor. The Masonic and Rexall buildings will also be interconnected at the 1st floor and 2nd floor. The 2nd floor connection between the Masonic building and Bartenbach building will be connected via a skybridge located above the alleyway.

Access and Life Safety: Approximately $2.5 million of the construction and redevelopment costs are associated with access and life safety measures designed to enable these buildings to be utilized and to serve the designed purposes provided for in the project. An ongoing impediment to the redevelopment of the Masonic Temple Building has been the lack of a secondary means of access which is essential for life safety. This deficiency has been resolved by acquiring property to the east of the southeast corner of the building for an eight level elevator/stair tower addition to the building that will serve all floors, providing egress as well as freight service for the restaurant and other hotel uses from the adjacent alley. The entirety of the three buildings will be equipped with a state of the art fire sprinkler system and a fire alarm system. This will bring the buildings up to contemporary standards for public safety.

Parking: The site does not provide for on-site parking. Guest arrival will be accommodated by way of Valet parking by Hotel staff. Restaurant parking in the evening can be accommodated by on-street parking. Guest and overnight parking needs are proposed to be met by the allocation of the top floor (open level) of the existing Parking Ramp located one block away at the corner of 1st Street and Locust Street. These parking spots are rarely occupied. Employee parking needs are proposed to be met by the use of the surface parking lot along the railroad tracks west of the Post Office. Other surface parking lots within a one block radius of the Hotel are sufficient to meet the remaining parking requirements.