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Ambassador is back as apartments

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Ambassador is back as apartments

New mission

By Kate Miller Morton


May 22, 2004

With the arrival of its first new residents, the long vacant and historic Ambassador Hotel is springing back to life.

Partners Jay Hollingsworth and Stephen Turgeon have spent $2.5 million turning the former 140-room hotel into 38 apartment units called Ambassador Commons.

The project is located between South Main and Front with some units fronting Vance and some fronting Talbot.

Ambassador Commons incorporates just one of the hotel's original three buildings. One burned and the partners do not own the other building.

The two new buildings are completed and some tenants have moved in.

Renovation of the 18-unit historic building is nearly complete and tenants will begin moving in June 1.

The partners hope to find a niche on South Main with predominantly one-room apartments.

"Most development with the exception of Central Station has been condos," Hollingsworth said. "We think there is a strong market down here for apartments."

Built in 1915, the Ambassador Hotel was one of a dozen in the South Main area during the golden years of Central Station and the now defunct Union Station.

"That whole area was dedicated to the services and needs of the traveler," said architectural historian and pres er vation consultant Judith Johnson.

The area suffered as the popularity of car and air travel grew and spiraled into a deep decline following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just blocks away at the Lorraine Motel.

The Ambassador closed in 1982 and was soon purchased for $200,000 by a subsidiary of Supreme Mortgage Co.

Supreme Mortgage president A.W. Willis said at the time that the feasibility of creating apartments in the hotel was being studied.

The buildings were later bought by Long Enterprises Inc., which tried to open a hostel for foreign travelers in the late 1980s.

In 1997 Lynwood Grisham announced plans to renovate the Ambassador into a restaurant, luxury hotel suites for music and movie loving celebrities and about 20 apartments.

Johnson said the current project has a much better chance of succeeding today.

"The area didn't have the critical mass it does today," Johnson said.

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