By Kevin Collison
The historic Mason Building, now an inconspicuous office building wedged along Grand Boulevard, could become a 35-room boutique hotel, bar and restaurant if plans being pursued by a St. Louis developer come to fruition.
Metropolitan Build has submitted preliminary inquiries at City Hall to determine whether the old building could become the next boutique hotel operation to be opened by The Kindler Hotel in Lincoln, NE.
The 49-room Kindler opened in downtown Lincoln in 2019. An employee there declined comment as did Jay Simon of Metropolitan Build.
“We are still evaluating whether we have a viable project or not,” Simon said in an email.
The Mason is named after Anna Mason, who developed the building as a four-story office project in 1905. Another two stories were added in 1921. It’s also known as the Borel Building.
The building at 1110 Grand was designed by prominent Wilder & Wight architecture firm, according to its National Register of Historic Places application.
“The building represents a significant example of the use of custom copper sheet cladding on an early modern curtain wall,” according to the application, adding it was an early job done by the world-renowned A. Zahner Co.
“Presumably, Wilder & Wight made the decision to hire the Zahner Sheet Metal Company (based in Kansas City to this day) to clad the primary elevation in what would have been, at the time, gleaming custom-fit sheet copper.”
The National Register application also quotes L. Bill Zahner as saying:
“These [copper] facades, particularly to the scale of [the Mason] Building are rare. They took more skill than what was usually available at the time. It was like a fine tailor fitting the skin precisely to the building.”
The distinctive use of metal could blend well with the theme of the Kindler in Lincoln. It’s named after the late Ken Kindler, a Nebraska metal sculptor who died in 2014. Many of his works adorn the hotel.
“Our hotel blends the independent spirit of Lincoln’s heritage, neo-classical architecture, and sophisticated accommodations to create a boutique hotel experience Lincoln hasn’t seen before,” according to the hotel website.
The Kindler Hotel’s design was conceived by award-winning Ross Vincent Design, a firm based in West Hollywood, according to the website.
If the project moves forward, the proposed $11 million hotel would join several other hotels developed in historic downtown buildings in recent years including the Ambassador which is located just across the street at 1111 Grand in the former Gates City National Bank Building.
However, according to the brief application to the city, significant public infrastructure work needs to be done if the project is to move forward.
The city sidewalk in front of the historic building is in danger of collapsing into the utility vault below requiring the relocation of the utilities to the building interior, according to the application.
Liam Dai contributed to this report
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