New boutique hotel to replace Oxford’s Downtown Inn
by Clay Chandler
Published: January 4,2013
Demolition of the Downtown Inn in Oxford will begin this spring.
In its place will go a boutique hotel whose design is the result of input from local stakeholders, and seeks to blend in with the historic buildings it will join on Oxford’s historic Courthouse Square.
Hotel Indigo Oxford will wrap antique brick around its 125 rooms. It will feature 30,000 square feet of green space, 24-hour room service, meeting and conference space and a rooftop bar and veranda that overlooks the square.
Luke Chamblee, of Flowood-based Chamblee Hospitality Group., which owns the property and is developing the hotel, said construction will start this summer, and take about a year. It is hoped Hotel Indigo Oxford will be open in time for Ole Miss’ 2014 football season.
The hotel’s rooftop bar and veranda required developers to ask the Oxford Planning Commission for a height variance that would allow the hotel to exceed the city’s height limit of 35 feet by seven feet and seven inches.
Officials secured that variance in August. Since then, Chamblee said his company has been meeting with officials and residents to get their ideas about how the new hotel should look.
He said in an email to the Mississippi Business Journal that the most common theme of those meetings was that the hotel’s design had to complement and blend in with the surrounding structures that sit on or next to Oxford’s square.
“The Oxford Square is one of the country’s finest treasures,” Chamblee wrote. “From the beginning of the design phase, the vision that we were going after was the turn of the century (early 1900s) old Chicago architecture. We believe this look has withstood the test of time. We wanted to avoid designing the latest trends as those go in and out of style. From the beginning we have approached this project with the understanding that it will be here 100 years from now and the architecture will never go out of style much like the Oxford Square.”
Chamblee said financing is in place to proceed with the spring-summer demolition and construction schedule.
The existing Downtown Inn, originally a Holiday Inn when it was built in the 1960s, is one of the more popular hotels in Oxford, especially during large events like home football weekends and a handful of annual music and arts festivals, because of its proximity to the cluster of restaurants and bars on the square. It does have its drawbacks. The design is outdated, with rooms offering access only on the outside of the building. It’s also bulky, not offering much of a buffer between it and one of Oxford’s oldest residential areas. That has made parking there difficult, and has led to regular complaints from residents about noise and congestion.
The new hotel, taking advantage of the height variance, will be built more up than out. The surrounding green space buffer will grow from the existing 7,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet. That was one of the reasons former Ole Miss chancellor Robert Khayat, who lives close to the site, told the Planning Commission last summer he supported the project. Overall, the new hotel’s footprint will be 30 percent smaller than the old Downtown Inn.
“Oxford is known for its beautiful landscaping and trees, and our design team worked diligently on this important detail,” Chamblee said.
The Indigo hotel brand operates boutique hotels in the U.S., Central America and Europe. Its properties each carry a different design that is meant to blend into its neighborhood.
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