Hotel Eola is about to reopen

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Developer Delta takes a role in the Natchez project

By Jack Criss

Yazoo City businessman and developer Hayes Dent is part of a development team – one of which owns the property – that has taken on the restoration and reopening of the iconic Eola Hotel in Natchez. Randy Roth, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and his company, Endeavor Corporation, is the lead developer and has worked with Dent on other projects in the past. An official announcement was made on site in August.

“Among other renovations and additions, we are going to install a 300-space car park on the hotel site,” explains Dent. “And we’ll use the new market tax credits and historic tax credits to fund the project. Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson and the team in his office were also incredibly helpful and supportive. We started this project almost a year ago and the renovation of the Eola Hotel is an important part of the incredible comeback of Natchez, which was recently called the fastest growing economy in the world. State of Mississippi by the Mississippi Development Authority.

Dent, who has worked in hotel development in the past, fondly remembers the meetings he attended at the Eola Hotel while he was a member of Governor Kirk Fordice, which led him to s get involved in historic preservation to begin with.

“Plus, I’ve always loved Natchez,” he admits. “So it was natural for me to get involved. “

Located in downtown Natchez at 110 North Pearl Street, the hotel was built for the Natchez Investment Corporation under the management of Leon M. Levy and Isidore Levy, for whose daughter the hotel was named. On the opening day, July 1, 1927, the headlines of the Democratic Natchez hailed the hotel as a great “symbol of civic progress”. New Orleans architectural firm Weiss, Dreyfous and Seiferth designed the building which was constructed by New Orleans contractors JV and RT Burkes.

At a height of seven stories, the Eola Hotel towers over downtown Natchez, where most commercial buildings are two stories tall. The building has a metal frame with reinforced concrete floors and partitions.

“It was and is Natchez’s Ground Zero,” Dent explains. “It’s the anchor of downtown Natchez and it was its shining star – we think it will be again.”

The hotel’s original 125 rooms had a typical 1920s size and finish, but the ground floor is one of the city’s grandest public spaces and will remain so, Dent says. The large hall, two storeys high and surrounded by a mezzanine on three sides, features paneled pilasters and free-standing square columns of the Composite order.

The Eola Hotel closed in 1974 due to increased competition from motels on the bypass lanes and the need for major repairs. For nearly a decade, Hotel Eola stood as a monument to a deteriorating historic city center and remained unoccupied. It reopened in 1982 after a major renovation designed by Perez and Associates of New Orleans with Charles Moore, a leader of the postmodern movement, as consulting architect. However, the hotel closed at the end of 2014.

“We are very happy to be a part of this project and its reopening,” said Dent. “We aim to retain the old charm of the original Eola and plan to have approximately seventy-two guest rooms as well as meeting spaces and the famous Dickie Brennan from New Orleans will partner with us to manage the food and bar for the Hotel. We are also in discussions with Hilton and Marriott to partner with reservation assistance and service systems to be part of their business while maintaining the original Eola style.

The goal is to reopen the Eola in spring 2023.

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