Work underway to turn old Doctors Building into boutique hotel in Danville

Renovations are underway to convert the former Doctors Building at Main and Holbrook streets into a 45-room boutique hotel.

The $8 million project should be complete in the summer, with the hotel open shortly thereafter, said developer Ed Walker.

Work will include refurbishment of the building’s interior and exterior, as well as improvement and beautification of the parking lot.

The Holbrook Ross Hotel will be similar in ways to another lodging establishment Walker built in Danville, The Bee Hotel, located at 420 Patton St. downtown. The location used to house the Danville Register and The Bee newspapers.

“They are luxury rooms, suites, sort of like the Bee, but a more mid-century aesthetic,” Walker told the Danville Register & Bee on Wednesday.

In addition to the aesthetic difference, the hotel’s theme will also focus on the history of the Holbrook-Ross and Old West End neighborhoods, Walker added.

Located in one of Danville’s oldest sections in the city, the historic Holbrook-Ross neighborhood begins on Holbrook Street, which is directly across from Holbrook Avenue. Established in the late 1800s, it was a thriving Black middle-class community with doctors, lawyers and other professionals.

At one time, the neighborhood included three churches, its own grocery store, a restaurant, hotel, library, mini golf course, two funeral homes and dozens of homes. Some of the locations in the neighborhood were featured in The Negro Motorist Green Book, a publication that listed locations that accepted Black customers.

The Old West End National Historic District includes Millionaires Row on Main Street and parts of Green, Pine, Chestnut and Jefferson streets, as well as Sutherlin and Jefferson avenues.

It “boasts perhaps the finest and most concentrated collection of Victorian and Edwardian residential architecture in the commonwealth of Virginia,” according to the Old West End website. The area includes a range of architectural styles from the Antebellum era to World War I.

The Holbrook Ross Hotel will be another lodging choice in the city for guests, which is vital, Walker said.

“This is a nice addition to lodging options,” he said. “Convenient to Averett, hospital, downtown, etc. It’s important for a city to have lots of options.”

A night’s stay in one of the rooms will likely be about $175, Walker said.

The former Doctors Building and an annex on the property total about 30,000 square feet. Built in 1957, it used to house offices and has been vacant since January 2019. Walker bought the building in November 2018.

Plans for the hotel have been in the works since 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the project, Walker said. Blair Construction in Gretna is the contractor.

Walker, an attorney, entrepreneur and developer, also spearheaded downtown Roanoke’s redevelopment and was named 2014 Citizen of the Year by Roanoke City Council. Walker redeveloped the old Patrick Henry Hotel in Roanoke and renovated that city’s health department building and turned it into West End Flats.

He has also been behind historic redevelopment projects throughout Virginia, in areas also including Salem.

Article by John Crane | Register & Bee