116-year-old Sam Hill Warehouse draws new purchase offer
Could put wrinkle in Hotel Garden Inn project
The historic Sam Hill Warehouse — a key component of the recently approved hotel deal in downtown Prescott — apparently has more than one interested buyer.
Don Moon, a longtime resident of Prescott and the president of the Don Bennett Moon Foundation, reported this past week that the foundation had submitted a $1 million cash offer for the building that is owned by Prescott College.
“I have indeed made an offer,” Moon said Feb. 7, adding that the foundation is eying the warehouse to serve as a space for the University of Arizona, as well as for a restaurant.
Although Prescott College President John Flicker declined to comment on the situation last week, Moon’s offer appears to be in competition with the Hilton Garden Inn plans that are underway in the area.
As a part of the plan for the hotel, developers WSH Hospitality LLC proposed converting the Sam Hill Warehouse, which is nearby, into a convention/conference center that would operate in conjunction with the 101-room hotel.
In a series of decisions over the past several months, the Prescott City Council agreed to a long-term lease/purchase arrangement with WSH Hospitality, allowing for the use of a 1.9-acre parcel of city-owned land near the corner of Montezuma and Sheldon streets.
Integral to the deal was the prospect of having a conference/convention center located just behind the hotel and across Granite Creek — in the old Sam Hill Warehouse.
Prescott College was among the partners that were supportive of the Hilton Garden Inn project.
During a Jan. 8 meeting on the hotel deal, Flicker told the Prescott City Council that he was “strongly in favor of this project,” noting that the college’s pending sale of the Sam Hill Warehouse to the developers and the college’s subsequent purchase of the nearly old APS substation project would “allow us to expand and connect our campus.”
Later in January, the council approved an amended agreement with WSH Hospitality, leasing the property to the company, with an option to buy.
While the Sam Hill Warehouse component had been discussed as a definite part of the plan, developer Shane Shumway told the Prescott Planning and Zoning Commission during a Jan. 31 discussion on the hotel’s building details that the Sam Hill Warehouse purchase was expected to be decided sometime in February.
On Feb. 8, Flicker said he could not comment on Moon’s offer or the timing of the college’s pending decision.
City Manager Michael Lamar also declined to comment on the situation, noting that until a decision is made by Prescott College, his comments would be speculation.
Local architect Bill Otwell, who worked on the design of the Sam Hill Warehouse renovations for Prescott College in 2008, said he has signed on to work with the restaurant and the University of Arizona to design the tenant improvements for their use, if Moon’s offer is successful.
Otwell, who has been involved for decades with historic renovations in Prescott, noted that the Sam Hill Warehouse was constructed in 1903 to provide receiving and storage for the Sam Hill Hardware Company on Whiskey Row.
Many of the goods that arrived in Prescott in the ensuing years likely passed through the Sam Hill Warehouse, Otwell said.
“There was a siding there, and they could pull the boxcars right up to the building,” he said.
While the railroad later was removed, the old trestle bridge remains. It is being incorporated into the plans by the hotel and the city to revitalize the area along Granite Creek.
After its use as a warehouse, the Sam Hill building served for a time as the site for the El Escondido Restaurant in the 1980s, Otwell said.
Prescott College later bought the building, and designed it as space for an art gallery and classrooms.
“The important things have already been dealt with,” Otwell said of the past renovation work. For instance, he said the renovations included a fire-sprinkler system. A restaurant and UofA space would be a “natural fit,” he added.
The Samuel Hill Hardware Company Warehouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Developer Steve Shumway of WSH Hospitality LLC was unavailable for comment to the Daily Courier on Friday, Feb. 15.