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El Capitan Hotel is in for some major changes

Mike Conway

Post Date:09/23/2016

El Capitan Hotel in store for renovation, addition

The face of Downtown Merced is changing one block at a time and the newest block to change will be the one with the El Capitan Hotel on it.

Wednesday night the Merced Planning Commission unanimously approved plans that could lead to a major facelift to the interior of the El Capitan Hotel and connect a new four story hotel next to it.

'This project is further proof that not only is Merced's Downtown alive, it's thriving,' said City Manager Steve Carrigan. 'This is a major investment in our community that ties in nicely to the UC Merced Downtown Center right around the corner.'

The two structures will be interconnected and the 100-room boutique hotel will have a restaurant, coffee shop, meeting rooms and retail space built around a courtyard. The Merced project at the intersection of Main and M streets will share common floors and operate as one hotel.

'The project is still in the conceptual phase,' said Frank Quintero, the City's director of Economic Development. 'There is a lot work to do to turn this project into a reality. They are dealing with a 90-year-old building that may contain a few surprises, and we want to help them because this will be a beautiful asset in our Downtown.'

The developer plans to preserve the exterior of the El Capitan that has been a landmark in Downtown Merced.

To help in the preservation of the El Capitan, a landmark in Downtown Merced, the Developer has partnered with native California operator Joie de Vivre Hotels

The San Francisco brand is known for curating authentically local and eclectic experiences at its boutique hotels, each which is an original concept designed to reflect its location. Joie de Vivre manages the largest collection of boutique hotels and resorts in California, and has other properties throughout the country. 

The original El Capitan, built in 1872 near 16th and N streets, played host to dignitaries such as Pres. Ulysses S. Grant and travelers heading to Yosemite. It was moved to its current location, and an annex built in 1924.

The original hotel burned in 1931 and the annex was remodeled to serve as the stand-alone hotel that people know today. There hasn't been any major exterior remodeling since 1936.

There will be 33 rooms for the old hotel that would be renovated and 67 new rooms and suites included with the four-story addition.

The new structure will be designed to gradually transition from a contemporary style to the historic art deco style of the El Capitan.

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