Scott Ragatz is thrilled, but not surprised, by the ongoing public interest in the remodeling of the Broadview by Drury Southwest. "I had 10 messages when I came in wanting to know when we were going to open this thing back up," said Ragatz, general manager of the new Drury Plaza Hotel-Broadview.
"When I came here from Connecticut five years ago, I heard a lot of wishful talking from everyone from the CVB to our regular customers about how they wished the hotel would come back around, how they hoped it didn't languish in bankruptcy forever.
"So Drury coming in at the last minute to swoop up the sale was akin to winning the lottery for the city."
The new 200-room Broadview is about 60 percent complete. It remains on schedule to open in May after a $29 million renovation, Ragatz said.
Room prices are still uncertain, Ragatz said, but will be "relative to the other downtown hotels."
It will blend the best of the old, retaining the wide variety of room configurations and reviving the hotel's presidential suite, loft suites and ornate historical architecture.
But there's a good bit of the new as well: reconfiguring the building's front to the river, new building energy management systems, a skywalk connecting the hotel with its parking garage across Waco, and a new food service chief Ben Arnold of Wichita's Corporate Catering.
"We feel by the volume of phone calls and the interest right now that we're going to open the doors and hit the ground running," Ragatz said.
"I think that we've captured the historical aspect in what remains, and I think Drury's vision to realign the building to face the river is the neatest part."
Travelers, bus tours and convention groups will be the new Broadview's key targets, but Ragatz plans to be a major player in Intrust Bank Arena business.
He recalled the frustration of losing Mick Jagger's business to the Hyatt when the Rolling Stones played Cessna Stadium.
"With this reworked presidential suite, we'll be able to accommodate that kind of business, along with the entire tour group," he said.
Those plans are integral to the redevelopment of downtown Wichita, said Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corp.
"It's part of the historic fabric of our city, a defining piece of architecture," Fluhr said. "From a preservation perspective, it's a tremendous project to come back on line with the development of our riverfront.
"Also as important, in Project Downtown, our master plan, we noted a demand for hotel rooms. Especially with its proximity to Century II, it's important to have another anchor as we work to sell our city."