ALEXANDRIA — Michael Jenkins wants the refurbished Hotel Bentley to make a big impression when it opens later this year for the first time in nearly a decade.
Jenkins bought the hotel in October 2012 for $3.4 million and has pushed ahead with its renovation.
But the entrepreneur and preservationist is taking his time with the downtown landmark.
He had hoped to have the Bentley open by early fall, but the project was bigger than originally anticipated.
Now, Jenkins expects to have the hotel open in time for Christmas and New Year’s parties.
“We could have probably opened three to four months earlier, but I wanted to go ahead and do it right the first time. It’s going to take longer, but I think it will pay off in the long run,” Jenkins said.
The Bentley has been closed since December 2004. It remained vacant until Jenkins, who has invested in several downtown properties, stepped up.
Under Jenkins’ plans, the original portion of the Bentley will remain a hotel with nearly 100 rooms. The seven-floor tower portion, which was added in the 1930s, is being gutted and converted to condominiums.
Among the upgrades Jenkins recently decided to make was installing new elevators and replacing all five chillers in the Bentley’s air conditioning system.
Installing elevators will make construction on the upper floors more of a chore while the chillers had to be ordered and will take 10 weeks to arrive. Jenkins expects the work to pay off in operating efficiency.
Each of the seven upper floors can have three condo units, though some buyers are interested in purchasing multiple units for a larger condo.
“There’s a lot of interest so far,” Jenkins said.