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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

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8/18/2012 12:01:00 AM
Rising from the ashes: Design for new Whiskey Row building - replacing edifice burned in fire - gets city approval
Otwell Associates Architects/Courtesy image
The Prescott Preservation Commission recently approved the architectural design for a new building to replace the one that burned on Whiskey Row in May. The architectís rendering shows the planned building, which will include a lower-level walkway between the street and the alley, as well as an open-air patio on the upper level.
Otwell Associates Architects/Courtesy image
The Prescott Preservation Commission recently approved the architectural design for a new building to replace the one that burned on Whiskey Row in May. The architectís rendering shows the planned building, which will include a lower-level walkway between the street and the alley, as well as an open-air patio on the upper level.
Cindy Barks
The Daily Courier

PRESCOTT - With the demolition of the old building now complete, a new building should begin taking shape soon at the site of the May 8 fire on Prescott's historic Whiskey Row.

Crews recently wrapped up demolition of the charred remains of the South Montezuma Street building that once housed three businesses - the Bird Cage Saloon, Pearl's Place Café, and the Prescott Food Store.

And just this past week, the architectural design for the replacement building got the approval of the Prescott Preservation Commission.

That opens the door for the engineering of the new building, and - within the next two months or so - its construction.



Mixture of historic, current

Architect Bill Otwell describes his design as one that aims to incorporate a "historic palette, but using it in a contemporary fashion."

While the new structure will borrow some of the design elements from the 1903 building next door, it will not have an identical look. For instance, Otwell said the new building's "quoins," or decorative borders, would have a similar shape but would be done in sandstone rather than in the more traditional brick.

"Slabs of sandstone were never really used historically," Otwell said, adding that he wants the building to look "subtly new, rather than obviously new."

That is in line with the city's Historic Preservation Master Plan for the Courthouse Plaza Historic District, which requires infill buildings to be of similar massing and scale to the historic buildings in the district, and to have brick or stone exteriors, with natural colors of a neutral tone.

Prescott Preservation Specialist Cat Moody said the building design achieves the city's goal for infill: Being neither exact replicas of historic buildings nor too modern.

"We don't want to create fake historic buildings," Moody said.



Project's new elements

Along with the more contemporary look, the newly constructed building also will offer some new features. Paramount to those will be a street-level walkway that will connect the front of Whiskey Row to the alley behind it, and ultimately, to the city's downtown parking garage on Granite Street.

Everyone involved - from Otwell to the building's owners to the Preservation Commissioners - appeared to view that feature as a welcome addition.

"I really like the idea of a pass-through between Montezuma and the alley," Commissioner Russ Buchanan said.

Otwell added: "This is a rare opportunity we have; we don't have to demolish a building (to construct the walkway)."

Along with its connection to the alley, the project also will link the new building with the building next door, which once housed the historic Grand Hotel (later the Grand Highland Hotel guestrooms), and the Jenny Longhorn and Bead-It stores.

Smoke damage from the May fire caused the evacuation of the old building.

Howard and Nancy Hinson own both the old building and the site of the new structure, and they plan to connect the two with a common elevator and upper patio.

Howard Hinson told the commission that the similar touches on the new building would help to tie it to the early-1900s building next door.

"We're not trying to replicate, but some similarity might suggest a common ownership," Hinson said.

The upper story of the historic building, which previously was split into 16 guestrooms with shared bathrooms, is being reworked into a "boutique hotel" of about a dozen rooms with private bathrooms.

An upper-level patio will serve both the hotel and the new building's restaurant space.

The look of the patio, including the materials bordering it and its openness to sunlight during the winter months, occupied a portion of the discussion by the commission.

Hinson stressed that the appearance from the sidewalk below was also an important factor. "The invitation up from the people on the street is something we are also interested in," he told the commission.

In addition to the upstairs restaurant, Otwell said other features of the new building likely would include a lower-level casual café, as well as retail shops toward the back.

The lower level of the historic building will remain as retail space. It will once again house the Jenny Longhorn store, while owners of the Bead-It do not plan to return. Restoration work has been under way since late July, and Otwell said that work would continue throughout the planning phase for the new building.

The design for both buildings will include fire sprinkler systems.



Final design approval

The feedback from the Preservation Commissioners last week veered between wishes for more detailing on the building façade, resulting in a more historic feel, to less detailing - for a more contemporary statement.

This week, Otwell submitted a slightly revised version of the design, which included suggestions from the commission.

The new rendering also included the name for the new building and walkway - Holiday Court. The Jenny Longhorn space previously housed the Holiday Shop, a long-time downtown-Prescott business.

Last week's approval by the Preservation Commission will be the final word on the matter, unless Otwell and the Hinsons were to propose major changes to the design, Moody said.

If the design stays substantially the same, the next step would be the submittal of building plans, which the city's building department and Moody would review.

Otwell said he hopes that the planning phase will be complete within about two months, after which construction would begin.

Meanwhile, the Preservation Commission also heard a report on plans to relocate the Bird Cage Saloon's historic sign to the business' new location just down the street - at 160 S. Montezuma St. The commission took no vote on the matter, because Moody said the sign is "grandfathered in" by the city.





Related Stories:
• Unsalvageable: Demolition slated for Whiskey Row building


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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, May 17, 2013
Article comment by: Mike Peloquin

Very nice design job Bill.

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Article comment by: Gerald Stricklin

Great job Bill. The use of sandstone in lieu of brick is a real plus for this building and downtown. Kudos!

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Article comment by: Amanda Hewitt

I think the design is hideous and utterly appalling. It does not flow well with the other surrounding buildings. I believe that it should be re-built to the way it was before, no "modernizing" of the architecture at all. Of course I am in favor of using modern fire safety measures. Using sandstone instead of the traditional brick? bad idea, it will stand out like a sore-thumb and it will look "obviously new".

Posted: Monday, August 20, 2012
Article comment by: Michael in Prescott

To the Complainers

Please don't be so myopic, the lot is deeper than 50 steps. And if you can't walk, even 50 steps is too far. How many other downtown businesses are there that are a lot further from the parking garage, and don't have the required off street parking?
The City has allowed this to happen, and if fact legislated it, because of the age of the buildings and the historical aspects.
This building is no longer exempted by those provisions and should be required to comply. The same as any other new business or residence has to comply with current codes when built.


Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2012
Article comment by: To the Complainers

First off, the "drawing" you see is most likely a computer-generated depiction. It cannot show tiny detailing, simply because computers can't. That's where you use your own imagination.

Everyone is going to have their own idea and interpretation, but we pay a professional because he has experience, skill, and imagination. He knows how it will turn out realistically, and why it should be done a certain way. Trust him.

Thank goodness there will be updating and renovation of the adjoining hotel building. The owners of Jenny Longhorns have been devastated as well. There business is their baby, into which they have put much blood, sweat and tears. By renovating the hotel, we eliminate a sub-standard flop house into a "boutique hotel" that will generate a better quality of local business, that will contribute to the tax coffers, which benefits us all.

As far as requiring new businesses to provide parking, the answer is bloody obvious. There is a 4-level parking garage 50 steps away.

To the jackass who expects new Harleys out front (believing the affected business owners actually ride): If you knew ANY of them at all, you would already know that won't be the case. Go buy yourself one, and you won't be such a kill-joy.


Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2012
Article comment by: the wino

Could we-all PLEASE have a up-date: to "WHAT HAPPENS TO THE 3-BUSINESS'S THAT LOSTED THERE LIVELY-HOOD?"

Posted: Sunday, August 19, 2012
Article comment by: @ Joy

I agree. An arch would be the icing, and would make it look a tad more "historic".

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: jeri smith-fornara

This is a wonderful design. I am glad that the Hinsons got together with Bill Otwell, who has done a distinguished job. He is not the Frank Lloyd Wright of Prescott, however, thank God.
Wright's buildings look interesting but architects and builders know that his floors crack and roofs and ceilings leak. Otwell's work is structurally sound.

This will be one of the few places on the Row with fire-sprinkler systems and, I presume, firewalls. The boutique hotel, I am sure, will
be fully booked. I hope the Preservation Committee will also begin taking color into account in design of historic buildings. Some buildings on Whiskey Row now have colors
which were not originally there and which do
not blend well with their surroundings.

This is altogether a big plus for Prescott.


Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Zig E.

For those wondering about the stores, as it stands now it will have 3 stores in the newly created courtyard and a couple of restaurants as well, one being on the second floor. !

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Careful there, folks. Don't criticize Architect Otwell.

Blessed by the Patron Saint of Architects, St. Thomas. He has somehow slowly but surely become the Frank Lloyd Wright of Prescott. Creating architectural history where there was none. And getting every important design job in Prescott. Very big fish in a tiny provincial pond.

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: AZ Native

Sounds like The Bird Cage Saloon will be just a memory.

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Just plain Ugly

I don't like this at all, not honoring the historic row, materials are too modern, hotel? pathetic. its whiskey row for goodness sake.

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Teddy C.

They left out the new Harleys parked by the curb that will be purchased with the benefit money that was raised. ($80,000 plus worth).

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: mark mcqillen

Just like to know will the food store still be there cause in the pics it looks like only 2 of 3 buildings are there?

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: mark mcqillen

Will the food store still be there it only looks like 2 of the 3 buildings will be built agian.

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Byte Me

May the people who rent the rooms have come to town for the night life and parties on Whisky Row and have the foresight to not drive after having a good time.

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: @ REALLY NOW

Is that comment really necessary, the drawing of the new buildings is beautiful!

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Joy Herhold

It looks boring without a lovely large arch for the passthrough instead of a square straight pass through as it is shown in this picture.

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Zig E.

You don't spend the night on Whiskey Row looking for quite solitude.

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: @ timing is everything???

by any chance are you an older white male, little on the heavy side, owns a gun, and sleeps near Emmanuel Pines?

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Michael in Prescott

Since this building requires new permits for construction, and is no longer an existing structure that is hard to accomodate "new" requirements, will this "new" building be required to have off street ADA parking, or will it be exempt like the rest of downtown businesses?

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Ron R. Harvey

Very nice design. I would appreciate a larger photo however. It's hard to grasp the design from this little thumbnail. I like that it compliments the block without altering it. This is a clear improvement on the original building (which was pretty nondescript), and opens Whiskey Row up more to the block behind it. Downtown has come a long way in the last decade! I would like to remind anyone with complaints to pursue their own designs, rather than denigrate others.

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Really Now

I guess it looks nice on paper, as does my four year old child's crayon drawings.

Posted: Saturday, August 18, 2012
Article comment by: Timing Is Everything! _ _

I like it. I like the way it looks and I like the plans for the space. The only downside I can see, would be staying in the hotel rooms on a Friday or Saturday night due to the noise and late night activity ....



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