[Mark Cowling, Florence Reminder] -- Town officials will begin negotiations with three businessmen interested in renovating the historic Silver King Hotel for an Irish-themed sports bar, restaurant and banquet facilities. The Florence Redevelopment Commission, after further discussions with Mark Irby, Everett "Sonny" Lee and Timothy "Ray" O'Sullivan, voted last Tuesday to recommend that the town pursue contract negotiations. Commission President Dr. John Riley said the project will be "a big spark" for downtown. "I think downtown in the next two years is going to make a big transformation. This project is going to be key to downtown moving forward with other projects," Riley said.
The plan is to turn the old hotel into the latest R.T. O'Sullivan's, which currently has two locations in Mesa and one in Glendale. The partners figure the complete renovation of the Silver King could cost $2.5 million and take up to two years to complete. Irby, a Tempe architect who has experience restoring historic properties, told the commission last week the partners still have "a lot of concerns" and "we'll need help from the city to make this a reality. ... We're going to be partners in this project." He asked the commission and town officials what the town is doing to help its downtown, and where downtown is headed. Irby further asked what liabilities come with the federal funds available to help renovate the old hotel, and what are the town's plans to create more access to Main Street from the north. "We still need to do a lot of work on our side," Irby continued, such as how to restore the balcony, which would now be in the town's right-of-way; how to provide handicap access; and a cost analysis. He said the partners "have a pretty good idea" of their costs, but still need to develop a budget that the business can afford.
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