Construction has officially begun on a sweeping expansion of downtown’s Historic Cordova Inn, located at 253 2nd Ave N. The groundbreaking ceremony took place today as the classic St. Pete hotel begins an expansion that will create 65 new guest rooms, a rooftop bar, and a ground floor restaurant tucked inside the wraparound veranda.
While the addition of larger modern rooms is a boon for the hotel, the entire project itself is a win for the neighborhood, as the community-focused expansion will create a hub for activity directly across from Williams Park. With more and more efforts underway city-wide to activate and revitalize the park, the team behind The Cordova is hoping the historic inn will become a center for gathering that will spill over into the park.
And indeed, there will be plenty for locals and guests alike to enjoy. New Hotel Collection, the group that owns The Cordova, is working to find a local restaurateur to spearhead a new restaurant on the ground floor when construction is finished. Complete with a wraparound porch on the corner of 3rd St and 2nd Ave N, New Hotel Collection CEO Tommy Del Zoppo wants the 3,000 SQ FT space to be one where people can gather to enjoy each other’s company, make new friends, and feel at home.
And for those who are already a fan of what The Cordova is doing, there is more good news: The Scott, their lobby bar and café, will be sticking around when expansion is complete. The bar has been a big success and has become a hit with locals looking for a more relaxed and intimate space to enjoy a drink. Ownership expects it to pair nicely with the new restaurant as the quieter and more intimate space will complement the louder and bigger restaurant and bar.
In addition to The Scott and the new restaurant, plans also call for a lush garden between the existing structure and the new wing of the inn. Then, on the fifth floor, a rooftop bar will welcome guests to luxuriate in the sun with views over downtown and Williams Park.
Hotel expansion keeps neighborhood architecture in mind
Reno Boyd Building Co. is leading the construction of The Cordova’s new wing, following the design created by Place Architecture. Del Zoppo, who lives in St. Pete, expressed great admiration for the job done in advance by both, as the expansion stays true not just to the design of the original Cordova Inn, but fits in with the neighborhood aesthetic.
In fact, the areas surrounding The Cordova played a significant role in the expansion plans. The new wing could have been significantly taller, adding more rooms and more potential revenue, but Del Zoppo and his team chose to keep the structure at five stories so it would fit in better with the neighborhood.
“Every conversation we’ve had, we ask, ‘How does this affect the community?’” Del Zoppo explained. “I think we have a responsibility to balance between the profit margin and what you provide for the community … If we integrate it into the community, that’s what lasts. That’s what people remember.”
Expansion will bring The Cordova up to 97 total rooms
Inside the new wing of the hotel, an additional 65 guestrooms will round out The Cordova’s occupancy. And while the designs will have a similar aesthetic to the boutique rooms in the original 1920s building, they will be larger and filled with modern amenities.
A key point for The Cordova was to add more family-friendly rooms and suites. To help create those experiences, some rooms will actually have slide-away walls to connect adjoining rooms, rather than just a door thrown into the middle of it. The aim is to create one large space for families or friends to enjoy, rather than two separate but connected areas.
In all of it, Del Zoppo says, their goal remains to provide “a 5-star hotel at a 3-star price point.”
“We don’t want to price out the family of four who want to come and enjoy St. Petersburg,” he said. “One of the things we want to be able to provide the community with is a place where people can afford to stay and enjoy the city. Otherwise, we’re pushing people out of the city.”
The Cordova Inn is one of St. Pete’s most historic hotels
Another significant driver for the project is preservation of the history of the building. The Cordova Inn’s original building already has historic status, an icon more than 100 years old. As Reno Boyd and Place Architecture put together their plan, preserving and replicating that history was a core value.
The new wing will not only showcase a similar design, but will even use many of the same materials. The new porticos, for example, will be made from steel beams, just like the original building, rather than using cheaper (and less sturdy) modern materials. And the theme of the hotel – from the rooms to the rooftop and down to the veranda and restaurant – will maintain its classic boutique vibe.
“When we looked at this hotel, we saw a gem that people had ignored for many, many years. We’re trying to restore the beauty of what this hotel represents,” Del Zoppo said. “We have a responsibility. It’s not just our place. It’s been here since 1921. We’re just stewards of it.
“It’s very important to us,” he continued. “With all the construction going on around the city, we’re kind of losing a little bit of the history of St. Petersburg, and we’re trying to preserve that.”
New Hotel Collection expects the new wing of The Cordova Inn to open in the second half of 2024. Stay tuned to I Love the Burg for more updates.
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