Georgia-based developers launch $20 million plan to convert former Sioux City hotel into senior housing | Local company

SIOUX CITY — A Georgia-based developer has announced plans to transform the former Sioux City Hotel & Conference Center into an upscale downtown seniors’ residence.

The 10-story building at 707 Fourth St., which first opened as a Hilton hotel and more recently sported a series of hotel flags, is now being considered as a seniors’ residence by a developer based in Georgia.

Tim Hynds, Sioux Town Journal

Atlanta-headquartered Fortune MD acquired the 10-story building at 707 Fourth St., through an LLC called Amera SL of Sioux City, for $5.35 million in late October. The hotel’s previous owner, CSC Hospitality LLC, had paid him $4.5 million less than three years earlier.

Fortune MD COO Hampton Obier said the former hotel, which housed about 200 rooms, will be converted into a 160-room seniors’ residence, with independent living, assisted living and memory care. The facility will be called Amera Gardens.

Obier said his company planned to spend around $20 million on substantial renovations to the once-popular hotel, which had endured declining fortunes for years. Demolition of the interiors is expected to begin in about two weeks, and crews have begun transporting furniture and moving items.

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“It will be a major overhaul. The interior of the building will no longer look like it once did. It will be equipped to really integrate the old and the new,” he said. “It’s going to have a nice modern touch. Cleanliness is very, very important, so all surfaces will be redone, because cleanliness is one of the most important things we have to offer our residents.”

Hampton Obier


Supplied / Hampton Obier

By the middle and end of this year, Obier said, the facility should have a showroom open for potential residents to visit. Construction is expected to be complete late this year or early 2023, with a grand opening this spring.

The former hotel was ideal for high-end seniors, Obier said — it’s in the heart of bustling downtown Sioux City, very close (and connected via the walkway) to MercyOne Siouxland Medical Center and the center of Sioux City conventions.

“It’s just a nice place for seniors to engage in their community and stay active,” he said. For seniors, the ability to reside in downtown Sioux City is “a tremendous value proposition,” he said.

Amera Gardens, which will be a private pay-to-use facility, will offer studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units priced at what Obier described as “market rate.” The hotel’s existing rooms will be reconfigured or adjoined, with the living areas becoming larger and larger.

The owners are considering a variety of amenities, including a lounge, barber shop, theatre, library, lounges, memory garden, activity areas, large dining room and private dining room for visitors and guests. families. There will also be examination rooms where outside physicians (not employed by Amera Gardens) can attend to residents.

No commercial space accessible to the public is planned.

“Even though the building itself has a public sense, it will be fair to the residents there because we need to protect the safety of our residents,” Obier said.

Mayor Bob Scott said he was pleased with the new owners’ plans for the building.

“I think it’s a lot, if everything goes well. I think it’ll be great. It’s better than sitting there doing nothing,” he said. “I hope they can pull it off, really.”

The mayor agreed with the developers’ assessment that senior housing is a productive use of the property.

“I think it’s probably better than a hotel right there, to tell you the truth, just because there’s a need for more accommodations,” Scott said.

The city’s director of economic development, Marty Dougherty, said the city’s involvement in the project has been minimal, limited to issues related to parking and the walkway.

The Sioux City Hotel & Conference Center, whose owners once had big plans for the property, went out of business last year, shortly before the sale was finalized. The new owners discovered the property long before the hotel closed and visited it as early as November 2020.

Sioux City Hilton

The Hilton Inn on the Plaza in Sioux City, as it was then known, is shown in this file photo taken when the hotel was new in 1975.

Sioux City Journal Archive

The 12-story hotel opened in early 1975 as the Hilton Inn on the Plaza. When new, the hotel was renowned for its opulent elegance, with chic interiors and cocktail waitresses in velvet dresses in the 12th-floor Showroom Lounge; the property has attracted large meetings, conventions, galas, and other events. By the spring of 1975 meetings had been booked as far in advance as March 1978.

For the past few years, the hotel has operated like a Howard Johnson. In late 2018, an entity called CSC Hospitality purchased the former Howard Johnson and renamed it Sioux City Hotel & Conference Center, which was the same name the hotel had carried for some time before being the Howard Johnson.

Built as part of a downtown urban renewal campaign in the 1970s, the hotel was once one of the top hotels in Sioux City, but the property had fallen on hard times long before CSC took it on. bought. City leaders blamed the hotel’s decrepitude and mismanaged operations for a loss of business at the city-owned convention center, which is across the street and connected by the skywalk.

The hotel was the only one connected to the convention center, until the Courtyard by Marriott hotel opened right next to the convention center in 2019.

The former Hilton has changed hands several times in recent years. After a transfer of ownership, it was called the Sioux City Hotel & Conference Center, the same name given to it later after the 2019 sale.

In 2014, the hotel was seized and sold by the sheriff. A year later, the hotel became affiliated with the chain that owns the Howard Johnson brand.

A succession of owners have attempted various upgrades and renovations, including new beds, flat-screen TVs, in-room mini-fridges and microwaves, and extensive pool repairs.

“A lot of people have tried over the years, but it just didn’t work,” Scott said.

Bob Zachariah, the hotel’s former general manager and longtime hospitality industry veteran, said in 2019 that the hotel’s new owners had big plans to restore its former glamor, including d major 14-month renovations that would cost “a lot of time”. million bucks.”

Zachariah said he hopes one day the hotel will again fly the flag of a national chain – after losing the Howard Johnson brand, it became one of the few hotels in Sioux City not affiliated to a national brand.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the following year and hotel occupancy rates across the country were hit hard.

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