Hotel Grim on course for autumn opening

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TEXARKANA, Texas — Despite delays and unforeseen challenges, the Hotel Grim redevelopment is on track to be complete by fall, the project manager said Friday.

Required repairs to the building’s basic structure, including the steel pylons driven through the basement, are about 90% complete and an increase in labor is on the way to bring the project to the finish line by October or November, said Tim Minson, vice president of Design and construction with Cohen-Esrey, the project’s general contractor.

An additional project manager is coming on board to oversee work on the Grim, and Cohen-Esrey plans to hire an assistant superintendent.

“We’re going to lean into this thing in a moment. And as big as it is, we need to have people everywhere. … We’re getting ready to flatten our ears and get really hard now. We’ll have a lot more people coming. So you’re going to see steady, steady activity starting next week, Minson said.

The project is six to 12 months behind schedule, he said, but all the materials needed are stored in Texarkana so supply chain failures affecting the broader economy would not further delay work on the Grim.

Work to convert the derelict hotel into a residence began in November 2019, and the first estimate for a completion date was spring 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic, an unexpectedly labor-intensive cleaning and pollution abatement process, and surprising foundation problems – which necessitated the basement pylons – have all extended the project schedule.

“With such a large and extensive project, some delays are not surprising,” said City Manager David Orr.

Remaining work includes strengthening the building‘s water-damaged frame on the eighth floor.

“We’re bringing steel I-beams all the way from the basement to the eighth floor to re-strengthen the area where water flowed through the building. It’s a big deal,” Minson said.

Crews must also install custom elevators and finish the interior frame. But historical restoration of the building, such as repairing or replacing plaster wall and ceiling decorations, is almost complete. Crews have begun restoring the hotel’s marble accents.

“We just appreciate everyone’s support and patience. It’s a very unique project with a lot of unique problems that we solved with a lot of help from local contractors who just sat down with a piece of paper and figured it out, which is pretty rare in this business,” Minson said.

Regardless of when the Grim reopens, Cohen-Esrey – who will also act as property manager for the new apartments – expects full occupancy. The Lofts at the Grim have received thousands of inquiries and applications to rent apartments, Minson said.

Rental rates are $595 per month for studio apartments, $635 for one-bedroom units, and $758 for two-bedroom units, according to Grim’s property management website, loftsatthegrim.com.

The redevelopment project is funded by a $26 million multifaceted financing package that includes housing and historic tax credits, Environmental Protection Agency funds, a neighborhood stabilization program loan, traditional debt and local contributions from the city.

All units at the Grim will be low-income housing as the project is funded in part by the federal low-income housing tax credit program. This means tenants must have a household income of no more than 60% of the local median. According to the US Census Bureau, the median income in 2020 in Texarkana, Texas was $46,408. That number would put the income ceiling of Grim residents at about $27,845.

Named for Texarkana bank, railroad and lumber magnate William Rhoads Grim, the hotel opened in 1925. The cost of building the 250-room luxury hotel was nearly $1 million. It closed in 1990.

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