Good Bones

Restoring the old Hotel Marion enters its next phase.

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Posted November 8, 2023 | By Jennifer Hunt Murty

The restoration of the historic Hotel Marion began in the spring of 2022, and the “Gazette’’ recently popped in to see how the efforts to revive the landmark build are faring.

The project to renovate the hotel, built in 1927, is being co-managed by local business owner David Midgett and HDG Hotels.

Midgett, who started the ball rolling on the project, said he first had to buy out tenants and then wait for them to move out. That took some time.

Next, Midgett had to get The Florida Trust to sign off on the renovation plans. “This was required because the Trust holds a conservation easement for the entire exterior of the building,” he explained.

Recent demolition inside the building peeled back years of layers, giving the developers and architects a better idea of what was behind the walls.

“We found no structural problems after extensive testing, coring and engineering reviews,’’ Midgett said. “We will have to do a significant amount of work on the exterior, primarily restoring and matching the stucco finish that has delaminated over some posts and beams. Restoring the concrete decorative elements on the exterior will be a lot of work, but the bones of the building are in great shape, and the structure is very strong.”

Midgett said the goal is to fully restore the exterior to its original condition.

“All of that restoration will be to historic standards promulgated by the federal government, since the building is on the National Register,’’ he said, adding, “and we will want to qualify for federal historic tax credits.”

The planning and design work is nearly complete and the developers have already entered into a franchise with Hilton to become part of the Tapestry Collection. Midgett said they’ve sent their preliminary designs to Hilton and are awaiting a response.

The initial plan envisions 58 rooms and suites starting on the second floor.

“The old ballroom will be converted into a grand lobby with a central bar. We will have a cafe for breakfast and lunch, a fine dining restaurant open for dinner, and a speakeasy-style cigar bar in the old boiler room,” Midgett said.

He said details about the dining concepts are still being flushed out but will be managed by HDG.

Plans also include guest access to the roof to watch sunsets but without fixed amenities on the roof. Plans don’t include formal meeting rooms “due to space limitations and brand amenity requirements,” according to Midgett.

John Donahue, with Donahue Architecture Inc., from Ocala, is the architect on the project. The Collage Companies out of Lake Mary oversaw the demolition and will manage the project’s construction.

A design firm headquartered in Miami, Lang & Schwander, is doing the interior design for the building.

“Right now, we are anticipating the hotel being complete in about 18 months, so we are planning our opening for the fall of 2025,” Midgett said.


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