Alex Patel grew up in Redding but left his hometown for about 15 years to go to college and work in the corporate world in the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas.
Patel, 30, grew up in the hotel business and last year, after getting married, he purchased the Travel Inn in downtown Redding. Though he didn’t own the hotel at the time, Patel two years ago had a hand in bringing the outdoor murals that today grace the Travel Inn.
Now he has bought the Americana Modern Hotel from Brent Weaver and Jamie Lynn, who took the former dilapidated motel and redeveloped it into a boutique hotel.
Patel has had his eye on the Americana for years and was interested in buying it when it went into receivership after it closed in 2017.
“I had a very similar vision and they were able to put that together without us even talking, so how this is working together, I think is a very cool thing,” Patel said of Weaver and Lynn’s rebranding of the former Americana Lodge.
Related: Americana in downtown Redding is ready to open and it’s throwing a party
Patel returned to Redding because he says he wants play role in the revitalization of downtown.
“I had a dream when I was 14 years old that downtown Redding would be hot one day and I think it’s coming to fruition,” he said. “I plan to continue to grow and take what Brent and Jamie did and keep making it better.”
Weaver, who sold his longtime lumber business, Weaver Lumber, in July, said he and Lynn decided to sell the Americana because they believe they accomplished their goal: to take a former nuisance and fix it up and “make it cool.”
“I think we proved that that business concept downtown can work. The numbers have far surpassed our expectations. … And we have a young, rising star in our opinion” to take it over, he said.
Weaver said the pandemic had nothing do with their decision to sell.
“He’s been talking to us for about a year and he’s been very interested in acquiring this hotel,” Weaver said. “Jamie and I think we were the right people to fix it up, get the business model moving. But we feel Alex is the right person to move it forward.”
Weaver said Patel has agreed to keep the Americana Modern Hotel name.
Revamping Taco Bell, McDonald’s
Taco Bell on Old Alturas Road is gone, while McDonald’s on East Cypress Avenue is undergoing a major face-lift.
Opened just before the turn of the century, the Taco Bell in front of WinCo was recently torn down. It took crews two hours to demolish it, which sent at least one mouse scurrying from the wrecking ball, per a worker who was part of the demolition.
A new Taco Bell is under construction that will feature the company’s Modern Explorer Design, one of four new architectural updates the company is rolling out. The others are Heritage, California Sol and Urban Edge.
The new-look Taco Bell is expected to open in late October.
Meanwhile, it wasn’t too long ago that McDonald’s on East Cypress just east of Hilltop Drive was remodeled. The new look featured a replica Sundial Bridge on the side of the building.
Diane Gross, whose family owns the location, said the McDonald’s corporation has outlined certain things franchisees have to do and one of them is a redesign. They have already remodeled their Lake Boulevard and Churn Creek road locations.
Self-ordering kiosks and hiding the kitchen more from customers are part of the remodel. There also will be a two-lane drive-thru.
“They are just trying to improve the customer experience,” Gross said.
And yes, the replica Sundial Bridge will be part of the remodel, Gross told me.
Will mini-storage project help former Meek’s property’s marketability?
When Brent Weaver sold his longtime lumber business in July, the former Redding mayor said he wanted to focus more on other business endeavors.
One of those was approved by the Planning Commission on Tuesday, a 62,275-square-foot storage business that also will feature space for storing boats and RVs.
The site is between the old Meek’s property at East Cypress Avenue and Larkspur Lane and the Salvation Army at Larkspur and Maraglia Street.
Weaver told me he hopes to start construction next spring. It will take about a year to build.
Both Weaver and realtor Ken Miller, of Northstate Commercial Partners, believe the storage business will help make the old Meek’s property more marketable. The property, which has been vacant since the discount store BIMORE closed 10 years ago, doesn’t have much curb appeal.
In 2016, the owners razed two buildings and cleared a portion of the property in an effort to keep the homeless from loitering in the area. But the old BIMORE building remains.
Business: Discount retailer BIMORE to close doors in Redding
“These owners and Ken have been at this for like 15 years trying to find something,” Weaver said. “They think with me partnering with them on the back … it will be quicker and easier for whatever future tenant is up there” to develop.
The issue, Miller says, is that the back portion of the property is lower than the parcel fronting East Cypress.
“That split-level terrain has always made it difficult to design any type of project,” Miller said.
Weaver’s project will encompass about 10 acres and feature indoor storage units and 2 acres of outside storage for boats and RVs.
Two years ago, Weaver did a ministorage project in Anderson, Riverside Mini Storage Boat & RV on Riverside Avenue.
“The vacancy rates for ministorage are very, very low, so there is good demand right now,” Weaver said.
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David Benda covers business, development and anything else that comes up for the USA TODAY Network in Redding. He also writes the weekly “Buzz on the Street” column. He’s part of a team of dedicated reporters that investigate wrongdoing, cover breaking news and tell other stories about your community. Reach him on Twitter @DavidBenda_RS or by phone at 1-530-225-8219. To support and sustain this work, please subscribe today.