Dear Answer Man, is the Travelers Hotel, which you wrote about in Friday's column, on the city's list of potential historic landmarks?
Boy, that's a great question to start the week, and I have all the answers, as usual.
For those of you who disappointed me and
, you missed this scoop: That old, cobbled-together hotel along Second Street Southwest, just west of Mayo's Baldwin building, has closed.
The building is owned by Mayo -- the World Famous bought it in 2001 for about what it's worth right now. The 2016 market value is $1.74 million, according to Olmsted County property assessors.
. Those buildings are owned by Mayo also -- I'll have more on those properties in Tuesday's column. The hotels are described on RGI's website as accommodations for "budget conscious travelers," and though I've never been inside, from the outside, you'd have to say that's accurate.
When I contacted RGI Lodging to confirm the Travelers was closed, their email response was that I should contact Mayo public affairs. I was one step ahead of them and already had contacted Mayo, and late Friday, I received this email from Mayo spokeswoman Ginger Plumbo:
"Travelers Hotel on Second Street Southwest closed in January 2016. Mayo Clinic purchased the Travelers Hotel property in 2001. RGI Lodging has continued to operate Travelers as a low-cost hotel option for the past 15 years. Two other hotels also managed by RGI (the Second Street Inn & Suites and the Fifth Avenue Inn & Suites) have unmet capacity, are in the same price range and are newer facilities.
"The Travelers Hotel is an outdated building with outdated building systems and appropriate renovations would be cost-prohibitive. Mayo Clinic has no current plans for the facility or the land."
So, that clarifies that Mayo has no plans for renovation, which leaves either a sale or demolition as the outcome -- and since the property is immediately adjacent to Mayo's downtown campus, it would seem that a wrecking ball somewhere has the Travelers Hotel's name on it.
This leads back to my reader's question: Is the Travelers Hotel on the list of buildings that merit some type of historic designation by the city's Heritage Preservation Commission?
Yes. It's among 20 historic properties in the top tier to be considered for further study by consultants to the commission, as part of the
in the city. That report came out in July 2014. Other buildings on that list of 20 include some slam-dunk landmarks, such as Calvary Episcopal, the Mayo Building, Methodist Hospital and Goonie's.
For the record, the Travelers Hotel consists of three parts: The former Beverly Apartments on the west end, built in 1925; the former Reiter Apartments at the east end, built in 1918; and a more recent connecting part in between.
Where does the city's long, tortured process of enacting a historic preservation ordinance stand? It's in the works, but glaciers move faster. As you can see, that historic landmark inventory is more than a year old and is in the process of gathering dust. The commission itself has barely met in the past year. It
of last year, then cancelled meetings on May 26, June 23, July 28, Sept. 22 and Nov. 24.
It finally did meet on Dec. 22 and approved
for forwarding to the city council. The city-county planning department also was expected to mark up the draft by the end of January. But there are powerful interests that would prefer to see no ordinance, or one that's all gums and no teeth.
The commission's January meeting was canceled, and the next one is set for Feb. 23. Will that one be canceled? Stay tuned.
I have much more coming on Friday regarding the Travelers, including its very interesting history.