Years after Smith County commissioners put it up for sale, the office building at the intersection of Broadway and Elm is well on its way to being turned back into a hotel.
It was built in the 1950s as the Carlton Hotel and operated in that capacity until the 1970s. The county then picked it up for a nominal $10 and converted it for office use. By the turn of the century, it was in dis-repair and an albatross around the county's neck that cost far too much to keep up.
The county finally finished a decade-long project to move all county workers into smaller, simpler buildings earlier this year, leaving the old hotel fully available for a would-be buyer.
Vernis Stanaland, President of the Stanaland Development Corporation, wants to make the old building relevant like it was when he moved to Tyler.
"It's an exciting project," he said. "Matter of fact the first day I came I went down to the Carlton and went into the coffee shop."
Stanaland said the vision includes street-level restaurants and retail, a ball room, meeting rooms, loft apartments and 125 rooms for a major hotel chain. Plans call for the hotel to keep the name "Carlton."
"It has a lot of good qualities in the old hotel," Stanaland said. "We'd feel great about getting to bring it back."
He's working with a building that has whole sections that have been closed off for years. 2007 was the last time the media was allowed into the worst parts, which were heavily damaged by mold and water.
"The county does not want the building. We do not want to try to renovate the building," Smith County Judge Joel Baker said. "It's a big project. But it's a great location for someone who wants to have some kind of development proceed in that area."
Stanaland plans to strip out everything down to the columns. And the timing is right--with a new parking garage going in across the street to allow for overflow parking not accommodated by the hotel's existing garage.
Assuming the numbers come through like Stanaland thinks they will, the building could be his by next spring. Renovations--totaling $20 million--would run through the summer of 2015.
"We're not there yet, but we believe that we will get there," he said.