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Work on El Capitan Hotel begins Monday

Mike Conway

Post Date:02/02/2018

Work beginning on El Capitan Hotel

The iconic El Capitan Hotel will begin its transformation next week as crews start the demolition phase of the hotel renovation project.

The 24-month facelift will replace its one-story annex with a four-story hotel wing, and completely remodel the adjacent 90-year-old hotel building. The two structures will be seamlessly connected and turned into a boutique hotel to rival those found in San Francisco and New York.

'I love this project,' said Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. 'This is a big win for Downtown Merced. It's beautiful, it's restoring a community legacy and it's building an economic resource. This will be a huge economic driver for our community and one that makes a lasting impact.'

'This is such a great project,' said Council member Jill McLeod, who represents District 3 and the Downtown. 'The Downtown is seeing such a resurgence, but having the hotel restored will give it an even bigger boost as a dining and entertainment center.'

'The El Capitan gives us a sense of history and tradition. It's buildings like it that help you feel an identity and ownership that we can feel proud of that draws new citizens and businesses to our town ' our Merced,' McLeod said.

Monday crews will begin abatement and interior demolition of the one-story building that fronts Main Street, a process expected to take about two months. Then the whole building will get leveled before it's replaced with a modern four-story hotel wing.

The historic El Capitan Hotel itself will be renovated and when completed the whole project will be connected and share common floors. When it's completed the 114-room boutique hotel will have a restaurant, coffee shop, meeting rooms and retail space built around a courtyard.

'The new El Capitan will broaden Merced's lodging choices and enhance Downtown hospitality,' said Economic Development Director Frank Quintero.

He said being near the UC Merced Downtown Campus Center around the corner at N and 18th Streets will help attract a steady stream of clients.

Quintero acknowledges there will be a few growing pains during the construction phase. 'There are going to be periodic disruptions of traffic on Main and M Streets during the construction,' he said. 'Please bear with the inconvenience, because the end result will be worth it.'

The hotel is expected to be open by 2020.

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 of 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 firm has hotels in Chicago, New York and Washington D.C., as well as, San Francisco, Monterey and Carmel Valley.

The original El Capitan, built in 1872 near 16th and N streets, played host to dignitaries such as President 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.

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