(CA): Hotel spurs hope on Madison
Seamus Loftus stepped outside his restaurant, the Brass Door, and saw the workers down the block.
Construction crews finally were renovating one of the dozens of empty buildings in his corner of Downtown.
It happened a year ago and Loftus remembered his relief.
“I was simply delighted,” Loftus recalled Wednesday. “This is a beautiful corridor. Bringing it back to life is important.”
Today the Hotel Napoleon, a 58-room boutique hotel at 179 Madison Avenue, is open for business, although Loftus remembers his thought when the construction began in his empty quarter of the city.
A renaissance is under way in the city. Just the other day, Memphis real estate investor Marty Mathews, a Little Caesars franchisee, peeled back the aluminum panels covering the 106-year-building at 1482 Madison and discovered an elegant architectural gem. Mathews is one of the investors pouring renovation money into elderly buildings – including the stately Broadmoor Apartments in Midtown, the colossal Sears Crosstown, Broad Avenue’s business district, the old hotel in Midtown at McLean and Union, Overton Square, the Highland Strip.
One first step: Crosby recommends the city install graceful lighting on Madison. With its trolley wires and brick facades, Madison has an early 20th Century appeal. But step out at night from the law school, which went into the former federal building, and Madison looks dark, Crosby said, although it has Cuban and Italian restaurants, Loftus from Ireland, the 110-room Madison boutique hotel and now the new hotel at 179 Madison, once an office for Sovran Bank.
Hotel Napoleon’s debut led the Brass Door owners to refit next-door space into the Irish Pub, which will open next month and serve breakfast seven days a week. They’re also heartened by Californian Chris Pardo. He plans to turn the empty Leader Federal Savings and Loan headquarters next door into a 70-room boutique hotel. Its upscale restaurant will be named Tellers.
Loftus doesn’t mind the competition. Hotel Napoleon houses a modern lobby bar looking on Madison at the First Tennessee Bank tower. Guests of each hotel will likely check out the Brass Door and the Irish Pub, he said.