The Alluvian sets new standard

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Published: June 16,2003

GREENWOOD — Five years ago, the dilapidated Hotel Irving was among the state’s top 10 endangered landmarks.

The Greenwood hotel is off that list and back on top again, this time as a luxury boutique hotel called The Alluvian that promises the utmost in guest pampering.

“The Alluvian is going to be a draw like the Peabody in Memphis,” said Robert Ingram, local economic developer. “People will drive just to see it.”

The hotel’s May ribbon cutting was attended by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, Greenwood Mayor Harry Smith, local dignitaries and residents delighted to see the old Howard Street hotel restored to its past grandeur. The Alluvian is a revitalization project of Viking Range Corp., whose CEO Fred Carl Jr. took an interest in the old hotel and decided to bring it back to life. Viking purchased the hotel in February 2001 and proceeded to transform the old Irving into a tourist attraction.

The hotel first opened in 1917 and thrived through WWII. It eventually became a residence hotel, then closed for good about 30 years ago. The building was structurally sound, but construction crews had to literally gut the old building to bring it up to code. Working from a shell, crews worked for approximately 21 months.

The Alluvian now has 45 rooms and five suites decked out with the extras that are characteristic of “boutique” hotels. The rooms have custom-designed furnishings and artwork by Mississippi artists, flat-screen TVs, goose-down comforters and oversized bathrooms with granite countertops. All guests wake up to a complimentary gourmet breakfast.

Each room has high-speed Internet connections and three phones with two separate lines. The hotel also has a fitness room, board room and two large special event rooms for weddings, receptions and business functions. The hotel staff is considering offering a culinary package to guests to tie in with Viking Range, and possibly blues and hunting packages.

The hotel was named for the rich alluvial soil of the Mississippi Delta. Southern writer Tennessee Williams is believed to have referred to the people living on this land as Alluvians.

Not far away from The Alluvian is Viking Range. Viking spent millions renovating historic buildings along two blocks of Front Street, known as “Cotton Row” facing the Yazoo River for its corporate headquarters. By renovating the Hotel Irving, Carl saw opportunities for both Viking and downtown Greenwood.

“We needed nice accommodations for Viking dealers and distributors that we bring in almost every week that reflected the beauty and quality of Viking products,” said Carl. “We also saw the Irving Hotel property as an opportunity to do something significant to help revive downtown Greenwood. We feel like we’ve accomplished both goals and are really pleased with all the momentum we have going in downtown Greenwood right now.”

Viking Range and The Alluvian are part of a larger downtown Greenwood revitalization that is gradually gaining momentum. More and more shops are opening up and others are renovating. The city’s strong Main Street program has assisted businesses in improving their facades. Greenwood’s entire downtown is listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

Next door to The Alluvian is the newly-reopened Giardina’s restaurant. Giardina’s opened in 1936 a few doors down from the hotel, but was closed when its owners retired.

Frank Leflore, who is a descendant of the area’s first settlers, reopened it and moved it next door to The Alluvian.

The 1940s-style restaurant is connected to the hotel via a courtyard, making it a convenient eatery for hotel guests.

Down the street is the Greenwood Blues Heritage Museum and Gallery, which has been open for over a year. It was opened by blues fan and musician Steve LaVere and is dedicated to blues great Robert Johnson.

Not far away from the hotel, StaplCotn is spending millions to renovate its corporate headquarters on West Market Street.

“They could have moved anywhere, but they decided to stay downtown,” said Janice Moor, executive vice president of the Greenwood-Leflore County Chamber of Commerce.

Ingram believes The Alluvian will fuel the momentum already underway in Greenwood. He hopes to see complementary businesses open up to serve the people who come to Greenwood to stay at The Alluvian, see the blues museum and shop downtown.

“(The Alluvian) is going to greatly add to the downtown revival that’s already started with the Viking headquarters,” he said.

Contact MBJ Staff Writer Kelly Russell Ingebretsen at kelly@msbusiness.com.

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