|By LaTina Emerson, The Augusta Chronicle,
Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Mar. 13, 2010--A vacant downtown hotel building will soon get a major face-lift.
Local engineer and businessman T.R. Reddy plans to transform the former Regency Inn at 444 Broad St. into a Holiday Inn Express & Suites by July 2011.
Reddy bought the property at auction last year for $588,500. He plans to spend $5 million or more to renovate the building, which hasn't been used as a hotel for a decade.
"Everything will be gutted to the bare bones. Only the steel structure will be used. We will tear down all the buildings around ... it's a total revamping," Reddy said. "I'm optimistic about the location. I'm very confident that it will do well, and it will clean up the area."
The current building has 160 rooms. When the project is finished, it will have 100 rooms -- 80 hotel rooms and 20 luxury suites -- plus a conference room. Reddy will demolish a small building at the rear of the hotel.
Reddy is working with Atlanta-based Tirella Associates on architectural plans. He said construction should begin in six months.
The Downtown Development Authority of Augusta will meet with Reddy next week to begin searching for financing for the project, Executive Director Margaret Woodard said.
"It would be a great project for that end of the block, the gateway coming in from Olde Town. We're excited about the project and hope it comes into fruition," Woodard said. "The Downtown Development Authority appreciates Mr. Reddy's investment in downtown, and he's got a reputation as being a great hotel operator."
The building was constructed in 1965, so it could qualify as a certified historic structure, said Erick Montgomery, the executive director of Historic Augusta.
The group will work with Reddy to determine whether the building meets the criteria. If so, it could be eligible for historic preservation tax credits, Montgomery said.
Reddy said he selected Holiday Inn over other interested brands, such as Comfort Inn and Country Inn, because he thought it was the "best brand" for the project.
Like his finished hotel project -- Comfort Inn & Suites on Noland Connector Drive -- Reddy plans for the Holiday Inn to be a "green" building and meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification.
It will contain geothermal air conditioning, designed to use only 15 percent of the power normally used to operate air-conditioning units. It also will use solar systems to reduce water-heating expenses and other power costs.
Comfort Inn & Suites was the area's first green hotel, Reddy said.
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