Coury opened the second property, the 43-room Ambassador Hotel Kansas City, after an $11 million renovation of the 96-year-old Grand Bank Building in Kansas City's Power and Light District. Coury is planning a December opening for the 117-room Ambassador Hotel Wichita after completing a $22 million conversion of Wichita's 14-story, 86-year-old Douglas Building.
Since first eyeing redevelopment of the Osler, the surrounding neighborhood has experienced significant redevelopment that includes the opening of shops and restaurants across the street with the Plaza Court and Walker Avenue Shops, and the conversion of a long-abandoned building at 1212 N Walker into sleek, modern apartments.
“To me, the area has got a lot of charm,” Coury said. “It reminds me a lot of Brookside or 15th Street in Tulsa where you have residential on one side of the street, and you transition to some retail on the other side, and then you see the central business district nearby.”
The Osler, like the original Ambassador Hotel, is a 1920s-era Art Deco structure with ornate brick and stone work on the facade.
He hopes to open the Osler as an Ambassador Hotel by late 2013. Plans call for a 54-room operation with a restaurant on the ground floor, a rooftop bar with small balcony, and a pool and courtyard on the east side of the building.
Stairway and elevator towers will be added to allow for better use of the building's floor plates.
Without the survival of historic tax credits that some lawmakers targeted for elimination last year, Coury doubts the project could have proceeded.
“The cost to move the stair towers, replace the windows, add all new mechanical system and fix up these old structures adds a lot of burden,” Coury said. “Tax credits are really important to this project — we wouldn't be doing it if the credits weren't available. We believe they are a huge asset for development of communities like this. These older buildings create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance to an older area than anything you could do with new construction.”