The Hotel Denison project is moving forward with construction set to begin late spring/early summer. The projected start date for the interior construction is sometime late Spring, around May or June.

Casey Shires, one of the partners in Cross Development who now owns the Hotel Denison, addressed a large crowd of nearly 250 people last week at the Denison Development Alliance Summit where he brought the community up to speed on the progress so far and the next steps.

“Denison is such a cool place,” Shires said. “For any of you here that don't know it, Denison is not a secret anymore. It's great. There is a lot of people talking about us. Act, don't talk because there are a lot of people coming in from all over. The developers, land owners, business owners — whatever you are doing — step up. Don't complain about the things the city is asking us to do, we want to grow and get people here. We have got to continue to make it look and feel like a better place. Keep that in mind the best you can to make Denison better.”

Shires said his firm started in 2003. Their first project was in Durant. The company started out doing commercial properties before getting into apartment complexes.

“Denison is a neat place because it has a town,” Shires said. “People want a town, they want a place that gives them a sense of place. They want to be somewhere where there's more than businesses and grocery stores. They are looking for that Hallmark channel feel. At the end of the day people just want what Denison offers. They want that core, they want a downtown. Let's not forget why people are coming here.”

Shires said the hotel is looking to be close to a $10 million investment. His firm recently brought on another partner to help with some of the cost and to develop the vision. He said the first several months have been focused on cleaning up all the stuff that was left inside. He said the developer has hauled off between 50-60 semi trucks worth of stuff to get the building ready for the next phase.

The roof has presented some challenges as well as the windows. Shires said the building is a part of the National Historical Register of Hotels. Due to historical society regulations he has to comply with certain guidelines that require a strict adherence in certain areas.

Shires said the tower and the downstairs will be a major part of the project plans. The first floor will feature a restaurant with a banquet hall that Shires said has already had people calling him asking when they can book it. There will be a glass wall downstairs that will feature photographs and memorabilia from the hotels 100 years of history.

The plans for the hotel are more complicated. He said depending on how things turn out it could be turned into a hotel, or it could be turned into loft apartments. Either way he said the downstairs plans are firm and the tower will be utilized in whichever manner makes the most sense.

“We're so blessed and so humbled we're excited to do this deal in Denison because it is for Denison,” Shires said. “We want it to be something people can enjoy forever. We have no intention of selling it and believe it not you wouldn't believe the people that have already called us to try to buy it. We're not interested. It doesn't matter. Look around Denison is cool. Take advantage of it and don't wait too long.”