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Take first glimpse at the new El Capitan Hotel and restaurant in Merced

A construction crew began demolition on the El Capitan Hotel on Thursday, April 12, 2018. San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre Hotels is partnering in the $15 million renovation of the hotel.
A construction crew began demolition on the El Capitan Hotel on Thursday, April 12, 2018. San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre Hotels is partnering in the $15 million renovation of the hotel. tmiller@mercedsunstar.com

The company behind the upgrades to the El Capitan Hotel released renderings this week of the inside of the rooms in the planned makeover of the historic building.

The 114-room project in downtown Merced is seeing a refurbishing of about $15 million to the 19th-century structure, according to city staffers.

San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre Hotels is partnering in the renovation of the building. More than a dozen Joie de Vivre locations can be found in California, according to the company’s website, with many more in other states.

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Construction workers work on the El Capitan Hotel at M and main streets on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. The boutique hotel is set to open fall of 2019. Thaddeus Miller tmiller@mercedsunstar.com

The hotel is to be unlike anything else in Merced, according to Todd Wynne-Parry, the executive vice president of global acquisitions for Two Roads Hospitality, the parent company of Joie de Vivre.

“It’s an up-and-coming city. You know, strong population growth, strong money being put into education with UC Merced,” he said in a telephone interview. “That has been a driver of a lot of demand in secondary and tertiary cities around the country.”

“Also, we like to be the most unique and interesting and relevant boutique in a town,” he continued. “Certainly, we saw Merced devoid of any kind of real cool boutique hotel.”

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These are renderings of then planned upgrades to the El Capitan Hotel released to the Merced Sun-Star this week, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. Two Roads Hospitality Submitted rendering

The UC is in the middle of doubling its size through a more than $1-billion investment from the University of California System. The newly finished UC Merced Downtown Center is also just a block up and over from the hotel.

The El Capitan building at Main and M streets is undergoing the plans of San Francisco-based interior design studio Nicole Hollis, according to the company. The four-story hotel will have “oversized” guest rooms, including three one-bedroom suites and nine junior suites.

Plans incorporate the original signage with the addition of terracotta flooring, bead-board wall paneling and heritage-style lighting, a nod to the building’s history, the company said. Also planned are art deco and Spanish influences.

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A construction crew began demolition on the El Capitan Hotel on Thursday, April 12, 2018. San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre Hotels is partnering in the $15 million renovation of the hotel. Thaddeus Miller tmiller@mercedsunstar.com

“I think you’d find that people who do development or adaptive re-use would say dollar-for-dollar and time-for-time, you’re probably not saving a lot using an old structure. Sometimes you’re spending more,” Wynne-Parry said. “But, certainly, from a character perspective, it just gives you a great canvas to work on.”

Along with a cafe that offers quick breakfast and coffee options on the go, the 30-seat coffee shop is to turn into a beer and wine bar in the evening. A restaurant will seat 66 and focus on meals that incorporate ingredients sourced from local farms and ranches, the company said.

“All of our hotels where we do food and beverage we try to focus on making them designed for the community first and foremost,” Wynne-Parry said. “Hotel guests: great. But we really want the community to embrace our food and beverage.”

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These are renderings of then planned upgrades to the El Capitan Hotel released to the Merced Sun-Star this week, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018. Two Roads Hospitality Submitted rendering

The property will also offer meeting and event spaces, including a ballroom, as well as a 2,500-square-foot outdoor courtyard.

Joie de Vivre is also heading up the restoration of the Mainzer Theater, which will retain its movie theater and feature a performance and events venue, according to the plans.

The Mainzer, too, will offer a new restaurant and bar. A gaming area is to offer vintage games, as well as a concession-stand inspired menu.

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