Central Valley Business Times
June 5, 2018
- Hotel Tioga getting improvements under new owners
- “This can be the foundation for the revitalization of the
Downtown that everyone is looking for” An icon of downtown Merced, dating back to the years when
Herbert Hoover was president, has been sold and is expected to be renovated The Hotel Tioga will be offering fully renovated and updated market rate apartments in downtown Merced.
The historic building, which opened in 1928, will have commercial spaces on the first floor.
PCG Commercial of Roseville is marketing the building. The property was purchased in April by Hotel Tioga Investors LLC and will be redeveloped by the same firm.
The city says the fully renovated Hotel Tioga will bring additional multimillion dollar investments to downtown Merced and will add to the major economic impacts of the El Capitan Hotel and Mainzer Theater projects that are currently underway.
“The Hotel Tioga was a huge boost for the town 90 years ago, and the sale and work that will be done shortly will once again be transformative,” says Merced Mayor Mike Murphy. “This is another big step forward for Merced and the Downtown.”
Mr. Murphy says the renovated property “will promote nightlife, and a diversified center that will include retail and hospitality.”
“This is an exciting time for Merced,” adds Merced City Councilwoman Jill McLeod, who represents Downtown area.
“The sale of the Hotel Tioga, along with the renovation of the El Capitan and the Mainzer will bring so much new life and energy to the Downtown.”
A Downtown Icon
The historic building, opened in 1928, has been an icon of downtown Merced and a social and business hub. Adding the additional market-rate housing to the downtown housing scene adds a new dimension to the work/life potential in the city’s core, city officials say. Economic Development Director Frank Quintero says a key element is having a strong residential base.
Hotel Tioga is strategically located close to the Merced Transportation Center and the University of California, Merced’s Downtown Administration Building on N Street between Main and 16 streets.
“Bringing this much housing to the Downtown will help attract the restaurants and other kinds of businesses that people keep saying they want,” Mr. Quintero says. “This can be the foundation for the revitalization of the Downtown that everyone is looking for.”
He adds that once revamped, the Hotel Tioga will provide another option for living in downtown Merced. “Currently, the vacancy rate in Merced is under 1 percent, so the Hotel Tioga will create new opportunities,” he says.
When renovated the apartment units will feature new kitchens, countertops, light fixtures, and flooring. The 73,670-square-foot building will offer a mix of studio, one-bedroom, and two bedroom units.
The architect for the project is Page & Turnbull, a full-service architecture, design, planning, and preservation firm. Founded in 1973, the firm has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. It brings together architects, planners, architectural historians, and conservators to take existing structures and adapt them to meet contemporary needs.
Nine decades ago when the Hotel Tioga was built it was aimed at Yosemite tourists. Visitors could drive up the “all-weather” Highway 140 or take the Yosemite Valley Railroad train to enjoy the natural wonder.
An Historic Building
The building, which cost $250,000 to build, is now on the National Register of Historic Places. In its prime it had a ballroom, handcrafted tile floors, art deco ceilings and the Merced’s first neon sign on the roof that could be seen for miles.
Also on the roof were two penthouses with legendary views of the Sierra and the Central Valley.
The guest registry is a blast from the past: John Kennedy, Calvin Coolidge, Eleanor Roosevelt, King Albert of Belgium and Archduke Otto of Austria stayed in the six story building. Screen legends including Marilyn Monroe, Gary Cooper and Mary Pickford stopped at the Tioga. Natalie Wood used the hotel as her residence while filming “Bombers B-52” at Castle Air Force Base. John Wayne called the Tioga home when he came to the Central Valley to hunt. Richard Nixon was photographed under its awning during his run for California’s governor seat in 1962.
Merced’s first radio station, KYOS, began broadcasting from the Hotel Tioga in 1936. And during World War II the U.S. Army Air Corps took over part of the building for office space.