Well, here I am, about to write down everything I can remember about our hotel project. Mike bought the Mills building in 1995, after the city approached him about it. They were planning on tearring it down for firepractice, raizing it and “creating” downtown parking. (Downtown at that time was pretty well EMPTY, so I’m not sure who all they thought would be using the lot.)
After talking to Mike, they said they could find a grant if he would buy the building and begin a renovation. Actually, the city’s idea was to turn the upstairs into low income housing. (More about that in a minute).
Mike first had to find the owner, who had won the building in a poker game, driven up one day to seen it and crossed it off his list. He thought the building was a mess, ugly and useless and the town a wide spot in the road where cows, horses, and goats lingered. Hanford is flat, hot and in the big middle of nowhere…and when Mr. Poker Player visited, has a dying downtown. However, the taxes were something like $12 a year and he saw no reason to just give it away.
Mike kept calling the guy and telling him about his own dreams and plans for this building and finally got him to sell. Plus, the city was going to have the guy pay for tearing down the building and cleaning up the lot.
Now, the first time I saw the place, I honestly thought Mike had lost his mind. The wallpaper was peeling off in long strips and the curtains were sppoky tatters. Pigeon poop was EVERYWHERE and the dirt? Picture 50 years of dirt, guano, grime! But then I saw this.
And I couldn’t bear the idea of little Matchbox cars running all over this really beautiful ORIGINAL woodwork. So I fell in love with this newel post and talked Mike into turning the whole upstairs into one big apartment space. For us.
The very first thing that had to be done was to reroof the whole building. It had been leaking for years and not only was the upstairs in a mess, the commercial spaces downstairs had leaks, as well. After cleaning the rooftop of all kinds of junk and making immediate repairs, Mike tore off the tops of the bricked columns, to find them stuffed with colonys of bats. Yuck! Eeek! Yikes!
All of that had to get cleared away before anything else could get done. Mike Robinson loaned Mike $20,000 to redo the roof beacuse if we couldn’t do that immediate fix, the building was a goner. Mike stripped off 100 years of roofing, down to the original metal roof, which was rusted through. After he pulled the metal roofing off, he had to repair the wood sheeting that was all rotted. Then he roofed it with cold application and membrane and wrapped the inside of the parapet walls with 1/2 inch rebar and45 degree angle metal bracing. Then he shot the whole thing with 6 inches of pool gunnite to stabelize the brick parapets. That tooke the entire $20K, our cost.
Then they had to get rid of all the flying and nesting pigeons, knock down nests, seal up the ceiling and attics spaces and then finally, seal the doors and windows. IT took most of one winter to get rid of the birds. (I personally would have poisoned them, but cooler heads prevailed.)Every evening, I would go into the hotel and check to see if there were any critters I could set free; our intention was not to kill then, but to get them OUT of our house.