Tag Archives: Herring Hotel

Now, how about the Herring Hotel?

You’ve heard it said, “If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they, um, make the trains run on time?”

Amarillo, Texas, might have a “put a man on the moon” metaphor of its own. It could go something like this:

“If they can find a way to rehabilitate and reopen the crappy hulk of a structure known as the Barfield Building, why can’t they do the same thing for the Herring Hotel?”

The Barfield Building — which is a rotting 10-story structure at the moment — is going to be repurposed as a Marriott boutique hotel.

Meanwhile, the Herring Hotel, once the city’s go-to place for every social event of consequence, also is rotting. It’s dark. It is foreboding.

A friend of mine, Bob Goodrich, has owned the building since the 1980s. He bought the abandoned structure with the hope of finding someone to invest big-time money to rehabilitate and revive it. He says he has scored some near misses. He’s been disappointed. He pays the taxes annually on it. The building isn’t quite the eyesore that the Barfield has become.

I’ve been through the first two floors in the Herring. Granted, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. It is in surprisingly decent condition, however.

Some contacts I used to have who were involved in downtown revitalization have told me they foresee a viable future for the Herring. Many of those folks have moved on. I am not familiar with many among the current crop of brainiacs who are talking among themselves about what to do about the Herring.

Nor am I familiar with all that has taken place to date.

I simply am amazed that a hospitality management company has actually taken control of the Barfield and has actually begun work to bring that miserable hulk of a structure back to life.

I consider the Barfield to be among the worst examples of urban rot in downtown Amarillo. If they can find a new purpose for the Barfield, isn’t there a future to be found for the Herring?

Yes on Barfield … what about the Herring?

A trip into downtown Amarillo, Texas, today brought to mind a question about the central district’s future.

If the Barfield Building — a seriously rotting hulk of a structure — can be targeted for renovation as a Marriott niche hotel, why can’t anyone come forward to revive an even more iconic structure, the Herring Hotel?

I am acutely aware that I am shooting from the hip, that there’s a lot about downtown redevelopment’s nuts and bolts that I don’t know.

I’m going to keep shooting, however.

I made the drive this morning down Third Avenue, past the Herring. I turned left on Polk Street and drove past the Barfield. As I looked at the Barfield’s busted windows and hideous exterior appearance, I thought immediately of the Herring, which looks at first (or even second) glance to be in better physical condition than the Barfield.

Robert Goodrich, a retired college professor of urban planning, has owned the Herring for quite a few years. He pays the taxes on it and seeks to find investors willing to sink some dough into reviving it. I’ve talked many times over the years to my friend Bob about the Herring. He is full of ideas and concepts. They include partial-use retail and apartment living plans.

Don’t misunderstand me. I am glad the Barfield might get a new lease on its long-abandoned life. It’s far from a done deal, even though a recent Amarillo Globe-News article on the Barfield offers encouragement to those who want to see the Barfield restored.

Many others, though, want the same thing for the Herring.

I’ve had the pleasure of walking through the ground floor of the Herring. I was working on a story for KFDA NewsChannel 10’s website when Goodrich took me on a tour of the building. I was stunned to note that the Herring is in relatively good condition. We didn’t walk into any of the upper floors. I’ve been told by city planners over the years that the Herring needs a lot of upgrading to bring it up to current building codes.

OK, now that I’ve emptied my rhetorical six-gun on the Herring, I am going to hope for the best, that my good pal Bob Goodrich — with some help from city economic planners — can restore what many Amarillo residents believe is a municipal treasure.

There is likely to be a time when virtually all of downtown Amarillo is shiny, new and vibrant. I cannot fathom the Herring Hotel standing alone forever as the city’s remaining multi-story eyesore.

Sometimes old makes way for new

polk street

This picture is of a building that’s coming down on Polk Street,  near Seventh Avenue, in downtown Amarillo.

A friend of mine, Wes Reeves, snapped it and posted it on social media earlier today.

I’ve known Reeves for many years and I have developed a keen affection for his own love of local history and things that are old and worth preserving.

Reeves loves old buildings. He believes communities must honor their past by doing all they can to preserve those vestiges of history.

He also noted as he posted this photo that there’s some good news accompanying the demolition of something old. It is that Amarillo is getting something new: a brew pub that is planned to be built in the city’s evolving downtown business-and-entertainment district.

Which brings me to the point here.

It is that the city is changing its central district personality.

Is the city going to forsake every single shred of history? Good heavens, no!

Amarillo already has preserved the historic Fisk Building and turned it into a classy hotel. Potter County has renovated the exterior of its courthouse, along with restoring and reviving the Santa Fe Building. There will be plenty of other restoration projects ahead; I’m hoping — along with the rest of the city — for eventual restoration of the Barfield Building and the Herring Hotel.

The new features, though, ought to be as welcome here as efforts to preserve the old ones.

And no doubt about it, we’re getting plenty of new business.

Yes, downtown is changing. That change necessarily means we have to make way for the change. If it involves the occasional removal of something old that no longer is functional, well, I’m all for that, too.

Let the change continue.

Downtown revival far from total

12175271

I have made no secret of my enthusiastic support for the steps Amarillo has taken toward the revival of the city’s downtown business district.

It’s been dramatic and at some level actually breathtaking. The construction activity along Buchanan is a sight to behold. The Potter County Courthouse restoration is a thing of beauty. Polk Street looks healthier than it has in the past 20 years.

I am awaiting the groundbreaking of the downtown ballpark, which I hope occurs sometime this year — and that we’ll get some high-quality minor-league baseball in the shiny new venue.

Downtown’s revival, though, isn’t as comprehensive as perhaps it ought to be.

If you venture just a bit west along Sixth Avenue and north along Harrison, Tyler or Van Buren streets, you see signs of lingering urban blight.

Yes, we have that crappy-looking Barfield Building at the corner of Sixth and Polk. And the Herring Hotel building, which was supposed to have been sold to a deep-pocketed investor with big plans to bring it back to life? Well, that project has suffered another setback.

I am aware that the downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone has boundaries. The TIRZ area sets aside property value increases to develop downtown projects. A good bit of the area just outside those boundaries seems to cry out for attention.

Weeds are sprouting along sidewalks. Parcels of land have gone unattended.

It looks bad, boys and girls.

While I will continue to cheer on any and all efforts to revive downtown, which is essential to the city’s future growth — indeed, its very future — my hope is that attention can be focused on those areas just beyond the blocks that are getting all this tender loving care.

I will keep the faith that the city will spread its TLC to blocks in dire need of it.

Is the Herring Hotel really coming back to life?

herring

Robert Goodrich purchased the Herring Hotel in downtown Amarillo in 1988 as an investment opportunity.

Now he says he’s got investors lined up to turn the once-opulent night spot into some semblance of its former glory.

He’ll announce — possibly soon — who those investors are along with plans to turn the long-abandoned Herring Hotel into a gleaming downtown jewel.

http://www.newschannel10.com/story/31776627/investors-look-to-revive-herring-hotel

Lame-duck City Councilman Brian Eades, who’s leaving office this summer, said he has seen the plans. He added that local investors are lined up to foot the bill for the project.

Do we know the cost? Do we know the precise details of what it will take to restore the Herring? No.

I’m one of those who hopes the Herring can be restored. It’s good,, though, to temper one’s hope with a dose of reality.

http://www.newschannel10.com/story/29547737/herring-hotel-revival-remains-on-wish-list

The hotel has been vacant for a long time. I’ve seen the first floor. It’s a mess. There will be a lot of modernization required to bring the building up to snuff.

But yes, it’s a beautiful structure.

Bob Goodrich has told me on many occasions that the building can be restored, renovated and reincarnated.

Eades apparently believes in Goodrich’s dream. Others involved with city government aren’t so sure. The Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone board kept Goodrich dangling for years before denying his request for financial help this past year.

However, Goodrich — a retired academician — hasn’t given up.

He has said once again that he’s persuaded investors to pony up the cash to get the job done on the Herring.

Let’s hope for the best.