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From historic bank to grand hotel: Look inside Hotel on Phillips

This paid piece is sponsored by Journey Group.

A hotel unlike any in Sioux Falls is about to welcome its first guests.

And when they walk through the door of Hotel on Phillips at 100 N. Phillips Ave., the president and CEO behind the project is hoping for a three-letter reaction: “Wow.”

“I want them to feel like they’re walking in somewhere grand, somewhere glam, somewhere luxurious,” said Brenda Schmidt, president and CEO of hotel operator Kelly Inns Ltd., which formed the ownership group Kelly Phillips Ventures LLLP.

“I want them to feel like they’re going back in time.”

It essentially took a trip back in time to transform the century-old former Great Western Bank building into a 90-room boutique hotel.

“A project and renovation of this type in Sioux Falls rarely comes around,” Journey Group project manager Devin Underberg said. “To be a part of it has been an experience that I will never forget.”

Architect Perspective Inc. and construction manager at risk Journey Group began work in 2017.

“It’s not every day that our projects are a 100-year-old renovation, especially of this caliber,” Journey project superintendent Roger Klebe said.

“And it wasn’t renovated into a typical hotel. It’s boutique, so each space has a different design, different furniture. It has that authentic feel.”

Years of previous renovations meant some unknowns, but that was expected, he added.

“We had to do some structural fixing and bringing the building back up to city fire codes. We’ve poured floors back in that were torn out, concrete beams that were cut out in the 1940s and ’50s, so that was a challenge trying to accommodate a design that could meet construction standards.”

In the end, though, the finished product met the owners’ vision.

The two-story lobby is striking, with several features open to the public as well as guests.

There’s a boardroom on the southwest corner, which can be booked by businesses for meetings of up to 12 people.

Coffea Roasterie operates the coffee and espresso bar, which is designed to mimic an old-fashioned teller window.

“We also were able to retain and highlight the beautifully designed dentil tray ceiling, as well as the original chandeliers,” Schmidt added.

Comfortable seating surrounds the space, highlighted by a tete-a-tete in the center of the lobby. The circular sofa is patterned after the sort of piece that would have been in a bank or hotel lobby years ago.

“Our efforts were to keep the historical aspects of the building the same, which is primarily first and second floor, and to create brand-new guest rooms on floors three through nine within the 100-year-old building,” Schmidt said.

The original bank vault, with a 16-ton door, has been repurposed as a walkway into The Treasury, the cocktail bar and food lounge that opened this summer.

“We shifted gears in the schedule so The Treasury could open sooner than the hotel,” Klebe said. “To have a nine-story building still under construction and get the bar piece up and completed and through city inspections meant everyone had to work together, but it is a really nice addition, and I know a lot of people are liking it.”

The second-story mezzanine level that overlooks the lobby includes Josiah’s Library, an area for guests to sit, read and visit.

Nearby is Hattie’s Parlour, a gathering room overlooking downtown that accommodates up to 100 people with a bar and multiple seating areas.

“Josiah’s is named for Josiah Phillips, and Hattie’s is named for his wife,” Schmidt explained of the couple who both played roles in the city’s early growth. “They’re both very unique spaces, and we anticipate using Hattie’s for everything from corporate events to social gatherings, including weddings.”

There’s also a business center and a state-of-the-art fitness center, where workouts can include a view of downtown or look out into the lobby below.

“There’s been a movement in the hotel industry toward repurposing buildings in urban areas like this,” Schmidt said. “They’re unique. They’re in the heart of the city. And they’re meant to be local. So we have Coffea to service us, and we have The Treasury that’s locally owned. This isn’t a franchise hotel. It’s one-of-a-kind.”

That becomes even more apparent when touring the guest rooms. For the 90 rooms, there are 15 designs.

“So there are choices for guests,” Schmidt said. “We really enjoyed putting together many different layouts and distinct finishes. Guests can browse our options online and choose their preferred room. And for those who make repeat trips, it can feel like a completely different experience each stay.”

Providing some of the most spectacular views required Journey to cut in new windows on the north side of the building.

“We worked with high-rise window-washing equipment and used a swing stage to demolish openings from the outside and cut the hole to bring everything inside the building,” Klebe explained.

“It was a unique process, but the final product looks amazing. It’s been fun to watch people’s reactions as they have come through on some initial tours. We noticed some writing down room numbers so they can plan for when they come back and stay.”

The hotel also offers six suites and 10 junior suites. The multiroom suites offer designs for those who like additional space during their stay but also for those who want to host small gatherings, serviced by large wet bars and extra seating.

The interior designer was Lynne White of Commercial Interior Design in Sioux Falls.

Special features include bathrooms, pillow-top mattresses, down pillows, hair dryers, walk-in showers and wet bars in every room.

And while it’s a historic building, the rooms include many modern amenities. Their “smart” technology connects guests with an Amazon Echo, which can use voice control to adjust the thermostat, power a bank of lights and control the television.

Guests are expected to be able to begin staying at the hotel Thursday.

“It’s been a journey, but it’s a positive one,” Schmidt said. “To take this 100-year-old building and repurpose it is a privilege. There are twists and turns and always some surprises, but there was nothing terribly unexpected.”

Journey Group served as a “wonderful, professional” contractor, she added.

“Their communication was very good throughout. They offer a very safe and clean environment,” she said. “We’ve never had such a clean environment for construction.”

Working in a high-traffic area downtown in a building with plenty of unknowns presented challenges, but Journey anticipated them as much as possible, Klebe added.

“We prioritized keeping the outside safe for the public, with everything barricaded off,” he said. “And because it’s such a compact building, all the sheetrock had to be hoisted in with a crane. And with the height between floors, it was really tough where some of the HVAC could run, and the mechanical and electrical was very compact.”

With so many unknowns and constant adjustments, “it required close communication with the architect and the owner as well as a lot of coordination with our subcontractors,” he added.

Now that it’s done, though, it has become a legacy project for all involved.

“Seeing it all come together, you can really feel that the entire project team accomplished something special,” Underberg said.

Schmidt agreed.

“We’re thrilled with the end result,” she said. “We look forward to having our community and our guests coming into town and enjoying it as much as we do.”

For information on reserving guest rooms or corporate space at Hotel on Phillips, contact director of sales Deb Anderson at 605-274-7445 or sales@hotelphil.com. To learn more, visit hotelonphillips.com.

For a look at other Journey projects, click here.

- Jodi Schwan - https://siouxfalls.business/from-historic-bank-to-grand-hotel-look-inside-hotel-on-phillips/