Historic Silver King Hotel suite in Florence renovated, hoping to pull in an anchor

Mark Cowling/Florence Reminder

The town of Florence is hoping to draw a new downtown anchor business to the historic Silver King Hotel, which was repaired and reopened in 2009 with the help of the Heritage Fund.

The Arizona Heritage Alliance is a nonprofit organization that was formed in 1992 for the purpose of working to prevent the Arizona State Legislature from taking or eliminating the Heritage Fund. Since the Legislature has eliminated the portion of the fund going to historic preservation projects like this, the alliance is looking for ways to restore it.

[Source: Christina Sampson, Florence Reminder] –After weeks of renovations, the dust has settled and the most spacious business suite in the Silver King Hotel is ready for a new tenant. The town paid about $20,000 to install new sinks, a grease interceptor, a tankless water heater and to improve the air conditioning system, all in hopes of attracting a new anchor business to the building.

“We’re looking for an eating establishment or an eating and drinking establishment,” Jess Knudson, assistant town manager, said. However, he added, the space could accommodate a different business, too. “It also could serve as a real nice retail establishment,” Knudson said. The suite, formerly the location of Second Hand Rose, has now been vacant for months. The overall goal, Knudson said, is to get “a tenant that will attract more people to the downtown area.”

To that end, the space will be leased at a rate below market price and a budget has been established to help a new tenant make any necessary changes to the space. “We’re going to have some money set aside so when we find the right tenant for that space we’ll be able to talk to them about what improvements they want,” Knudson said.

The town purchased the hotel and renovated it into four business suites using $500,000 in grant funds and $250,000 in town funds. Knudson said when it purchased the hotel the town envisioned “bringing it to life and using it as a business incubator.”

Currently it is home to the Florence Fudge Company, the Silver King Hair Company and RZN8 (“resonate”) Media. “We were able to preserve a historic anchor downtown,” Knudson said.The suite’s future tenant will have more than just a newly renovated space, however.

Padilla Park

Plans to develop a park and social gathering space behind the hotel are well underway. At a June 17 meeting, the Florence Town Council approved the purchase of property located on Granite street for $32,500. The town hopes to combine the lot with property adjacent to the Silver King Hotel and turn it into Padilla Park at Silver King Plaza.

The park will feature “shade and social amenities” that could facilitate social functions and events, Knudson said. Professional landscapers will be solicited next, he said. The Silver King Hotel has metamorphosed several times since it was first built in 1876, when Florence was a mining town in every sense of the word. Its gabled roof made the L-shaped, adobe building stand out from the flat-roofed structures around it. It was renamed the Florence Hotel in 1890 but the main part of the building, on Main Street, was torn down after a fire in 1893.

Two years later, the red-brick building town residents are familiar with today was built, featuring a bar and restaurant on the first floor and 15 guest rooms. The hotel thrived, featuring a roofed balcony with canvas “sides” that could be rolled down to create outdoor sleeping “rooms” on hot summer nights and a stagecoach office.

In 1917, a second floor was added to the rear adobe wing that had survived the fire of 1893. The rooms were converted into low-rent housing and changed for modern building codes, such as the addition of a fire escape. Although the hotel eventually faded into history, the bar and restaurant survived until the 1970s. In 1995, a fire consumed the building, leaving only a bit of the adobe and brick walls. The rain did the rest on the adobe wing and eventually the walls began to dissolve and fall down.

Information about the suite can be found on the town’s website or by calling 868-7549.