Many throughout town are delighted and relieved to learn that something is finally being done with the old Grand Canyon Hotel at Second Street and Route 66. Above, shoppers explore the new location of Wolf and Tiffany Holley’s Iron Horse Depot.
Unsatisfied with the business traffic they were receiving, the Holleys began searching for a new location only a week or two ago. Rich Gorney, of Banker’s Real Estate in Williams, notified them that the Grand Canyon Hotel had been purchased and that the new owners, part-time residents Amy and Oscar Fredrickson of Phoenix, might be willing to lease the corner bottom floor out as a storefront. Last Wednesday, the Holleys made the call.
“Oscar said ‘We could probably sign a lease in two weeks,’” Wolf recalled. “I said, ‘How about today?’”
The grand opening for the store’s new location was Sept. 25 and already, the Holleys noticed a sharp increase in traffic through their shop — as much as tenfold, according to Wolf. Neighboring businesses have been happy to welcome them.
“We’re delighted to be here,” said Tiffany. “Everyone has been so nice. Other business owners have been coming by and saying hi.”
Iron Horse Depot, which labels itself as “Williams most unique shop,” offers home décor, gifts, souvenirs, handcrafted rustic furniture, and is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Williams City Councilman John Moore originally told the Fredricksons about the hotel. They also had communication with Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce President Donna Cochran, who was very excited about the prospect of new owners for the property.
Negotiations then began with the hotel’s listing agent at Banker’s Real Estate in Williams and the couple purchased the property during the week of Sept. 20.
“Rich Gorney was wonderful, he really helped us out a lot,” Amy said, also giving accolades to their next-door neighbor Glen Hills for being their “go-to guy.”
To make things even better, the Fredricksons have more plans for the old hotel than just renting space. Those plans include restoring the hotel’s rooms to their original look and opening them up for business within the next two years. To help cover some of the restoration cost, the Fredricksons have a unique idea — to offer sponsorships for the renovation of each unit.
By sponsoring a room, a business or individual will be responsible for its remodeling, can name it what ever they like, and decorate however they wish, as long as the room’s look still has an early 1900s feel. The couple predicts each renovation will cost about $2,500-$3,000 and those who do sponsor will get 10 percent returns from 500 room nights. Three of the 25 rooms have already been signed up for sponsorship.
“Business is good here,” Oscar said, adding that the support and help they’ve already received shows just how much the people of Williams want their venture to work.
Before the rooms are ready, however, the Fredricksons will also have created a vintage theatre in the back — Cine Classics 66 — hopefully opening within the next six months. The theatre will be designed to comfortably seat 100, and will feature classic films no newer than the 1960s on week and weekend nights with the possibility of cartoons on weekend mornings. The two also say they may even open the theatre up as a ballroom/bar when movies aren’t being run.
During the renovation period, Amy reports they’ll probably rent out the hotel’s lobby space — adjacent to where Iron Horse Depot now sits — to some type of retail until the rooms are ready.
“We like main street looking full instead of empty,” Amy explained, adding that the couple are excited about the revitalization efforts currently underway in Williams. “We like Williams and we like where it’s going to go."