Since closing in 1972, The Baker Hotel and Spa has sat vacant, but an 11-year process has resulted in the start of a restoration project to bring it back to life by late 2022.
Chad Patton, who is responsible for the development of The Baker Hotel, was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Weatherford meeting Tuesday and discussed specifics on the restoration project.
Rotarian Jenny Barnwell helps get the programs together for the Rotary Club meetings and said she did a lot of research before asking Patton to speak.
“I went onto the website, he was local enough to where I could get a hold of him and so I just communicated with him and got him here to talk to us about this,” Barnwell said. “I do a lot of research to get different people here that are going to give us valuable information that helps our county and our city as well as what this is getting ready to do for Mineral Wells and Palo Pinto County. The airport there, that is something that economic development here has been looking at to see if there’s a viable way of rejuvenating that, but that airport is in Parker County.”
Patton said their team has had the privilege and honor to be a part of the transformation and process with The Baker over the last decade.
“I am just one representative of a team member that has come together over the last 11 years to really fulfill a vision that we’ve had for the restoration of The Baker and taking it a step further, the restoration of Mineral Wells,” Patton said. “The cost of the hotel is just shy of $66 million and that’s a complete renovation, the construction component is almost $30 million. It’s been a really creative and complicated process to put all the pieces together.”
Patton said over the years there has been a lot of financial support and explained that the reason it’s working today is because of the different types of economic incentives that are now in place. The project has received $12 million from a State Historic Tax Credit, $4 million from the city of Mineral Wells economic development fund that generates revenue every year and funds from federal support.
“It’s real this time. All the pieces of the puzzle have been put together — the state tax credits, the federal historic tax credits, the city, traditional debt financing, equity investors — and all that happened in June,” Patton said. “We’re currently in the asbestos, lead and demolition abatement phase of the project, that’s almost a $3 million line item and takes almost a full year. So we’ve been actively working on the hotel for about three or four weeks.”
Patton said the team gets asked a lot about if the hotel will be renovated in its original 1930s-1950s styles.
“The answer is yes and no. We certainly want to honor the integrity of the building — we’re working very closely with the Texas Historical Commission,” Patton said. “There are just shy of 1,000 windows in The Baker Hotel and we have to refurbish those windows, we can’t replace those windows. What was really cool about the [original] spa, it was done in white subway tile, well guess what? White subway tile is kind of chic again and so to be able to incorporate that style in the future spa is important.”
Patton said they’re restoring all the ornate detail in the lobby and making the standard rooms bigger.
“We actually found contractors that can bring all that back to life,” Patton said. “Going forward, the new rooms are going to be for every two rooms it will not be one standard room, so a standard room will be just under 600 square feet, that’s quite large.”
Patton said the price points will be on average under $200 per night.
“Now, one weekend if there are multiple weddings and there’s only a few rooms left you’re going to pay more,” Patton said. “On a Monday or Tuesday night, you’re going to pay a little bit less.”
Patton said the website is set up where people can contact and share information on a variety of things including future employment, stories about The Baker, memorabilia from The Baker, investments, sponsorships, future events and reservations, sub-contracts and more.
The other team members on the project include Laird A. Fairchild, lead developer; G. Brint Ryan, major investor; Randy Nix, community outreach and communication; Jeffrey M. Trigger, operations and guests needs; Mark Rawlings, constructive restoration; and Beth and Kurt Thiel, interior and architectural design.
“What we have here are just some folks that love this area and love this building and believe in what the restoration will do for the community,” Patton said. “You don’t have some developer from New York that just wants to get this done, you have some local Texans that just want to see this thing happen for the community and for this area. This is just a passion that grabbed all of us.”
Patton said a production team out of Los Angeles is starting a 60-part series on the renovation of the hotel and the impact it has on Mineral Wells called Resurrection Texas.
Patton said Nix and a group of investors, primarily local residents, have acquired The Crazy Water Hotel and have already started construction.
“They want to turn that into mixed-use, so they want to have four rental units, some retail, some commercial and that’s probably going to open around the same time [The Baker] will,” Patton said. “The Baker Hotel itself will kind of be the southeast corner of the historic district and The Crazy Water will be the northwest corner of the historic district and the city is currently working on creating that district and revitalizing all of that so it’s not just a hotel that’s offered in downtown Mineral Wells.”
Barnwell said she believes Mineral Wells will prosper from the restoration.
“I think Mineral Wells will very much prosper once it does take off and it’s something that Mineral Wells has needed for many many years,” Barnwell said. “I think [Patton] did great. He’s very enthusiastic and has a lot of passion for the project.”
For more information about The Baker Hotel and Spa restoration, visit thebakerhotelandspa.com.