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A five-star facelift

David Larter April 5, 2013 5

The Jefferson is temporarily sporting a construction chute. (Photo by David Larter)

The Jefferson is temporarily sporting a construction chute. (Photo by David Larter)

A downtown Richmond fixture is sprucing itself up for spring.

The Jefferson Hotel has closed 40 of its 262 rooms for remodeling.

“This is part of our enhancements program, and it’s an annual thing,” said Joe Longo, president and managing director of the 118-year-old hotel. “What we’ve done is take out a number of rooms to make a continual improvement of our product.”

That means 40 west wing rooms will be completely redesigned, with new bathrooms, bedding, fixtures, lighting and windows.

“We think it will take about eight months,” Longo said, “but with a historic building there are always going to be things that come up – what we’d call unusual or surprise conditions.”

Longo wouldn’t discuss what the hotel was spending on construction, but, according to building permits filed by general contractor RVA Construction, it’s at least $181,000.

Smith McClane Architects did the design work.

Longo said the hotel’s layout is ideal for performing clunky construction work.

“The wings allow us take out some of the rooms, and guests in other areas of the hotel will never know it’s happening,” he said.

Keeping the five-star hotel up to snuff is a constant process, Longo said, and it means that each year it assesses its priorities. In 2009, the hotel shut down its Lemaire restaurant for renovations. And in September, the restaurant opened up a new patio for outdoor seating.

“Even changing the light bulbs in the main public areas is a [big deal], with the high ceilings,” Longo said. “Everything we do is planned around maintaining the historic character of the building. It’s a little like running both a hotel and a museum.”

The Jefferson Hotel is owned by the Riverstone Group, part of local businessman Bill Goodwin’s CCA Industries. The roughly 140,000-square-foot hotel’s rooms start at about $250 per night, according to multiple travel sites.

Goodwin and a business partner purchased the Jefferson in 1991. City records do not show what they paid for it, but it is assessed at $25 million, down from a peak of $32 million in 2008.

Riverstone owns several other high-end properties, including Keswick Hall in Albemarle County, the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville and Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, S.C.

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5 Comments »

  1. joe April 5, 2013 at 6:32 am - Reply

    Now if they would just get rid of that ugly sea of asphalt. There’s no need for all that parking. Its time to have a conversation about how bad surface parking lots are for downtown.

  2. St George Pinckney April 5, 2013 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Great comment, Joe. A few trees, rain gardens could make the parking lot differ from their run of the mill competitors and justify a higher ADR.

    What does the reporter mean that City records do not show the price? Isn’t that impossible? Would someone explain?

  3. Bruce Milam April 5, 2013 at 8:44 am - Reply

    The owners of the Jefferson have had plenty of opportunities to sell those parking lots for apartment construction. They’ve chosen to hold. They are huge supporters of higher education and medical care in Virginia and I think they’ll contribute that land one day for one of those causes. Its likely that VCU or the medical school will need it someday.

  4. Scott April 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Bill Goodwin already donated most of the land that up to Belvidere in that area that has been used to build so many buildings recently. I am sure if VCU really needed it in the future he would be willing to part with it for a hefty tax deduction.

  5. Kyle McKenna April 7, 2013 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    Quote: “Longo wouldn’t discuss what the hotel was spending on construction, but, according to building permits filed by general contractor RVA Construction, it’s at least $181,000.”

    Is this comic relief of some kind?

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