(Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in CityScene Oct. 18, 2021)
By Kevin Collison
Preliminary demolition work has begun on converting the historic Ozark building at Ninth and Grand into a 249-room AC Hotels by Marriott with completion anticipated in about two years.
“In terms of historic buildings, I think it’s in exceptional condition,” said Derek Alley, CEO of VCC construction, the contractor doing the project.
“There’s an epic, vaulted ceiling lobby with historic tile and molded plaster that hails from a different era that will meld the beauty of an AC Marriott’s modern feel with authentic preservation.”
VCC construction is doing preliminary interior demolition to determine the condition of the 13-story building at 906 Grand. It opened in 1912 as the Ozark National Life Building and in recent years housed UMB Bank operations.
The $60 million hotel project is being developed by Beechwood Pinnacle Hotels of Little Rock, and will include an adjoining five-story building at 910 Grand that dates to 1905. The firm also acquired a parking lot at 710 Walnut.
Beechwood Pinnacle is a management and development firm as well as owners of about 20 hotels in Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma. The planned AC Hotels would be its first project in Missouri.
Alley said the exploratory demolition now underway at the Ozark Building will help his firm prepare its final construction documents and apply for a building permit application with the city.
“The biggest challenge is unforeseen conditions,” he said. “When you repurpose an existing structure, there’s always nuances you’re not aware of until you get into the weeds.
“The next challenge is fitting a new use. We have to efficiently lay out the space to maximize the number of hotel rooms.”
The planned AC Hotels would include meeting space, a restaurant and bar.
The project is close to other hotels proposed for historic structures along Grand including the stalled renovation of the former Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City into an Embassy Suites and the renovation of the Palace Clothing building as a Canopy by Hilton.
The Ambassador Hotel at 1111 Grand opened in a historic building in 2012 and completed a $14.9 million addition in 2019.
There had been plans to renovate the historic Scarritt building at 818 Grand into a 193-room Wyndham Grand, but the developer decided to pivot to converting it to apartments instead.
Don’t miss any downtown news, sign up for our weekly CityScene KC email review here.