After two years of planning and more than nine straight months of construction, the Ponce de Leon Hotel is reopening as downtown Roanoke’s newest apartment complex.
On Friday residents will begin moving into the historic building at Campbell Avenue and Second Street. Of the 90 one- and two-bedroom apartments inside, more than 70 were already reserved the week before opening. Monthly rents range from $700 to $1,300 for the largest two-bedroom unit.
The Ponce de Leon also has half a dozen retail spaces, including a 4,000-square-foot area designed for a restaurant. So far, Rock Paper Beauty Salon has leased one of the storefronts. The salon and spa is expected to be open by around September.
The ambitious project to renovate the aging hotel began in the summer of 2012. Faisal Khan and his father, John Khan, of Khans Builders & Contractors, paid $1.3 million for the eight-story building. The 78,000-square-foot building was constructed in 1931 and operated as the Ponce de Leon Hotel until 1970, when it fell under new ownership. It became the Crystal Tower building and served as the headquarters for Total Action Against Poverty, which bought the building for $1 million in 1990. TAP moved out of the space and across the street in 2011, shortly before the Khans purchased it.
Construction on the project began Oct. 3. About $10 million later, the new building has come together with many of its historical touches still in place. One of the Ponce de Leon’s original fountains from 1931 was kept in the lobby. The original hardwood flooring was kept in parts of the building where it could be salvaged. The elevators still have the same interior and look of the date they originated.
According to the leasing agents, most of the building’s new residents are in their 20s, a mixture of young professionals and Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students. Parking for the building’s retail patrons is in a newly developed lot next door to the building, while residents have contracted to use the city’s parking facilities.
Khan has redeveloped several other historic Roanoke properties, including 401 Campbell Lofts. The Ponce de Leon’s new breath of life is part of several renovation projects going on just west of downtown’s core. These include the apartments at 425 Campbell Ave. and the former YMCA building.