Historic hotel targeted for redevelopment | Business
The new owners of the Historic Carlton Hotel in downtown Tyler plan to renovate the decaying property into an apartment complex with commercial leasehold space.
New Orleans-based NORF Cos. Announced in September that it had purchased this property at 106 E. Elm St. The building’s “signature” rooftop pool above the parking garage will be restored under the total $ 30 million project, said NORF Managing Director Cullan Maumus.
“Tyler is a big city in growth mode,” he said, recalling that NORF representatives “fell in love with the city” when they visited during the building purchase process.
He said the company identified the Carlton Hotel after COVID-19 emerged, when they couldn’t travel much. NORF began to look for secondary markets “which could have been overlooked but which have strong growth factors and a strong economy”.
“Spending time there, the vibe is contagious,” he said. “City leaders are proud to stand up for opportunity while entrepreneurs and professionals have subscribed to a common vision. Locals celebrate each other’s victories and visitors admire its beauty. We are thrilled to be a part of this undeniably special time in Tyler’s history. The Carlton was once a gem of the city. We look forward to reviving this iconic property and being a part of the revitalization of downtown Tyler.
He said NORF is in the design and planning stages of the project and hopes to begin construction in the first quarter of 2022. The renovations would take 12 to 14 months.
The Carlton Hotel operated from 1954 to 1971. The 15-story building had 200 rooms, air-conditioned, equipped with televisions, a swimming pool and a rooftop cabana, a ballroom, a cafe. and an automatic elevator. The building remained vacant after the hotel closed until 1977, when Smith County bought it. The county stopped using the building in 2013 and then sold it. It has been vacant since 2013.
Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran welcomed the announcement of NORF’s plans, saying county officials had received an announcement regarding the project but had not spoken with the developers. Demand for housing in Smith County is high, he said,
If additional housing for residents is added downtown, he said he believes it will “kick-start” economic growth and development there.
“There is so much momentum,” he said.
NORF’s website says it was founded in 2013 “to focus on historic redevelopment and tax-incentivized urban renewal in New Orleans.” Since 2013, NORF has acquired over 60 properties of varying sizes and conditions, successfully restoring some of the more complex projects that others have passed on.
Part of the company’s strategy is to create real estate investment funds under the Qualified Opportunity Zones program, created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. States designate these areas because they are “in distress” and need economic development and job creation. People who invest capital gains in investment funds enjoy tax benefits. The old hotel is located in one of these qualified opportunity areas. Other areas are located in eastern Texas.
The approximately 120,000 square foot building will be transformed into around 100 one and two bedroom apartments. The parking garage with its rooftop swimming pool will also be restored.
Part of the restoration strategy is to claim state and federal tax credits related to renovating historic properties. This is why the restoration of the swimming pool is important.
“It was one of the centerpieces of the project that made the building quite iconic for its time,” said Maumus.
He anticipates that the apartments will appeal to young professionals and college students, including students and faculty at the planned new medical school at the University of Texas at Tyler.
Maumus said NORF is also considering other projects in east Texas.