Hyatt Place, 530 South Gay Street, Knoxville, December 2017
Hyatt Place Knoxville, located in the historic Farragut Hotel Building, held its ribbon cutting at 10:30 this morning and should welcome guests by the end of the year. Developed and owned by Dover Development and managed by White Lodging, the hotel includes 165 rooms and lots of surprises for first time visitors.
It starts outside with the replica awning reproduced precisely from old photographs of the hotel in its heyday and continues into the lobby with the fine, predominantly local, art you’ll find throughout. From Andrew Saftel‘s nautical-themed collage referencing Admiral Farragut and Richard Jolley‘s mixed metal and glass work, and Heather Whiteside’s Knoxville Streetscapes – all found in the lobby, it becomes clear immediately that the level of effort and care to establish a sense of place is extraordinary.
In an additional stroke of symmetry, the hotel opens a hundred years after the original hotel opened in the space in 1917. While virtually all of the original architectural detail was lost to previous renovations, care has been taken to return elements of the original where possible and references to the original in updated design throughout.
Rick Dover has made it a personal mission to bring the hotel back to life and his memories of the place in his youth have fueled his desire to return it to a special place for Knoxville residents and visitors alike. “As a Knoxville native, this building held a special place in my heart,” said Dover Development General Manager Rick Dover. “My Dad used to take me there for a haircut. I went to High School dances there. For Dover Development to be able to take this building from empty and abandoned to this beautiful art-filled hotel is very, very special.”
“The Farragut Hotel was a place of special memories for many of the people of Knoxville. We’re so excited to breathe new life into this landmark property,” says General Manager Trenton Keelen. “Our convenient location offers so much in a walkable distance, from all of downtown Knoxville’s amazing restaurants, galleries, historic theaters to the popular Neyland Stadium, to which visitors can hop on the free Knoxville Trolley.”
As I toured the hotel with GM Trenton Keelon and Rick Dover, the excitement on the part of each was evident. Trenton recently moved to Knoxville from Austin and is learning to love the city. An immediate and significant event happened in his young family when his wife gave birth to their first child within days of their arrival. Knoxville is now home.
Architectural work in the $25 million, eight story building has been shared by an Atlanta firm and Faris Eid with DIA. Robin Easter Design also worked on the project which features reflections of the hotel’s past and its namesake throughout. Exciting design details like the elaborate crown molding and the reclamation of the nine-foot ceilings in the rooms (accomplished by removing old duct work, thanks to a new high-efficiency heating and cooling system) make the hotel an elegant showplace.
A full-service Starbucks will open just to the left side of the lobby and a coffee and cocktail bar will be available in the right side of the lobby as you enter off Gay Street. The entrance off Clinch has been restored to its original look with wood-work including mahogany balustrades enlarged from the original to meet current codes and manufactured by a company in Maine, but finished by local artisan Art Clancy who is responsible for the beautiful bar and other wood finishes in the lobby. The lobby will also feature a massive waterfall montage by New York artist Charlotta Westergren.
While food will be available to guests 24/7, no full-service restaurant is included as the hope is to encourage guests to get out and enjoy the great restaurants in the city. Other amenities include a basement work-out facility, a gallery kitchen breakfast for guests, over 3800 square feet of meeting space and a rooftop entertainment venue. Valet parking, dry cleaning services and pet-friendly rooms make the property even more attractive.
In many respects this is a very unlikely project. It would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago when the building sat largely empty, with the exception of the French Market, that it would return to its original purpose as a hotel. As Knoxville embraces a next step in our development, we are also able to reunite with our past in what was, now is and shall be for the foreseeable future, a beautiful historic hotel on Gay Street.
The photographs here were limited by the ongoing construction. I hope to share the finished product with you in the near future. Reservations are currently being accepted here.