MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- After years of planning and construction, the iconic Tioga building in downtown Merced has now been transformed into luxury apartments.
There was no grand opening celebration due to COVID-19 restrictions, but Action News got a look inside the fully restored lobby.
Managing Director Robin Donovan says, "What this property was prior to us taking on this project, it was a lost little soul that still had its heart, but it needed a face-lift. It needed a little TLC, and as you can see by looking around we've done a lot of TLC."
Crews worked to preserve many of the original elements from the 1920s, and they paid homage to the celebrities who once stayed here by commissioning a local artist to paint these portraits based on old photos.
About half of the 70 units are now filled with tenants, and free rooms have been provided to traveling healthcare workers.
Managing Director Robin Donovan says the pandemic has delayed the opening of the Tioga Sequoia taproom in this first-floor space, but all of the extra amenities planned for this project are still in the works.
Donovan says, "It did slow down the process. It was a little more difficult, but you learn and grow and move forward."
Across the street, The Mainzer Theater is also moving forward. It will feature an amphitheater for live entertainment and a cinema. We got a sneak peek inside the expanded section that's being turned into a game room, bar, and restaurant with a focus on local ingredients.
"We're going to have cool milkshakes, for adults and non-adults so there will be some with a little alcohol if you'd like or just your standard milkshake, but not standard here because we're making our ice cream in-house as well," says Donovan.
The Mainzer is scheduled to begin opening in August, and the nearby El Capitan Hotel is expected to start its phased opening in November. The two facilities are looking to hire up to 120 employees, with positions available through the Hyatt careers website.
Merced Mayor Mike Murphy says, "They're important projects for the city of Merced, ones that are also catalyst projects for the other developments that we have happening in downtown. So for our perspective at the city, it's certainly wonderful to see these projects still moving forward, and we're really thankful to the team that's been pushing that forward."
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