Turning vacant hotels and motels into apartments is gaining momentum nationwide, with good reason. Neighborhoods are revived, local economies get a boost, and most importantly the inventory of much-needed affordable living space increases. It’s a match made in heaven, so to speak, as the two building types share a common footprint.
In downtown Dothan, the former Town Terrace Inn Motel is being converted into a 26-unit apartment complex, mostly one-bedrooms with a few two-bedrooms. The project is expected to be completed by December, says Stephen McNair whose consulting firm, Mobile-based McNair Historic Preservation, is helping to maximize the historic integrity and economic incentives of the property.
“The existing layout of the units, parking, and access makes this an ideal adaptive reuse project,” adds McNair about Town Terrace, which was the first motel constructed in Dothan.
“Most of the new apartment units will consist of two former motel rooms that have been combined into one single unit through a new interior opening. The site is also ideal and provides ample parking, room for the new pool, and walkability within the downtown. Located a block from Foster Street and other restaurants and amenities, residents of Town Terrace will be able to walk to bars, restaurants, and entertainment just a few blocks away and using sidewalks.”
Town Terrace Motel consists of two, two-story stand-alone structures flanking a central, surface-level parking lot, McNair explains. Both buildings were constructed of exposed brick and CMU blocks. The first phase of construction began in 1958 and the second phase in 1962, which added a two-story, flat-roof brick and CMU block building similar to the original building.
Exterior architectural features remain intact, McNair says. The property operated as a 52-unit motel until 2021.
“The project is being renovated under historical guidelines and will maintain many original and unique features: exterior balcony railings, open storefront glazing, and wood jalousie doors and windows,” says Andrew Gosselin of Gosselin Architecture in Dothan, the architect on the project.
A Dothan Eagle newspaper article from 1957 describes the design as “ultra-modern,” and that the motel was constructed at the cost of $200,000.
The project is part of the overall vision of adding new housing options within downtown Dothan. Other buildings are being renovated downtown to provide more residential options, including the former Malone Ford building on South Saint Andrews Street. But as McNair points out, “our project is larger and offers more housing options with off-street parking and more amenities, like the pool.”
Not only are hotels and motels being repurposed into apartments, but these underutilized buildings provide shelter for the unhoused.
This year, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) introduced the Hotels to Housing Conversion Act. This legislation would authorize $750 million in funding for state governments and housing authorities to work with local governments and community organizations to convert hotels, motels, and unused residential properties into emergency shelters, and transitional and permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.
*Article Written by Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of McNair Historic Preservation