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Historic Hotel Monroe In Downtown Phoenix Gets New Life As Hilton Garden Inn

Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown
(Photo by Lauren Gilger - KJZZ)
The Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown, located on the corner of Central Avenue and Monroe Street, is holding a soft open on Dec. 18, 2015.

Built in 1932, the art deco sky scraper on the corner of Central Avenue and Monroe Street has been known by many names — the Valley National Bank of Arizona, the Professional Building, the Hotel Monroe. And now, it will be called the Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown.

In 1960, it was even featured in the opening sequence of Alfred Hitchcock’s film “Psycho.” But, for the last 30 years, the building has sat largely empty — until now.

The new Hilton, which opens Friday, has 170 rooms, 2,600 square feet of meeting space and, eventually, will have a rooftop bar.

From its brass doors to its marble floors, it pays homage to its architectural roots.

“Most people have no idea that this space exists,” said Roger Brevoort of Historic Consultants.

His firm worked to get a federal historic tax credit for the hotel’s renovation and worked with the architects on the project to make sure they stayed true to the building’s historic features and fabrics.

But, Brevoort has had a hand in the building’s fate since the 1980s, when he helped get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places, he said.

Since then, the building has been through round after round of owners and developers. There was even a time when there was a McDonald’s in the lobby, Brevoort said. But no full-scale renovation ever came to fruition.

Then, in 2006, it seemed like the building’s luck was changing. A developer bought the property and began renovations to make it into a hotel, Brevoort said. At the time, he was working for the architecture firm in charge of the renovation.

But, he said the financing imploded and the project was shuttered. So, the building sat empty again – until 2013, when Minneapolis-based developer CSM Corp. purchased the property and finished the renovation.

“And now, as downtown Phoenix’s revitalization is sort of taking hold, isn’t it great to be bringing back a key asset right in the middle of downtown?” Brevoort said.

The "crown jewel" of the place, as Brevoort puts it, is the formal banking lobby. In it, you’ll find original marble floors, brass doors and a cavernous 24-foot ceiling lined with art deco columns.

“I think we bring back to the community a sense of formal banking lobby that was lost,” Brevoort said.

Dec. 18 is a soft opening for the hotel. All of the rooms will open in January, General Manager Michelle Davis said.

Nook Kitchen will open on the building’s main floor in the spring and the rooftop bar is slated to open by March.

After working on it for decades, Brevoort said that finally seeing the building brought back to life feels like quite a career achievement.

“I’ve been involved with it for so long that it’s just a very exciting time,” he said. “And I can’t wait to sit at the bar and have a drink!”

Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.