The Central Plaza Hotel — a sleeping giant soon to awake

July 23—CHEYENNE — Just give it nine months. You aren’t going to recognize the place.

The Central Plaza Hotel, a longtime fixture of downtown Cheyenne, located along Central Avenue, has for years been a short-term living space for lower-income residents or for contact employees, like workers in construction or oil drilling.

It is also a location that has been in disrepair in recent years.

Paint of once vibrant colors is fading beneath the harsh sunlight, metal is rusting, the interior was outdated, and the indoor pool, located in a structure separate from the five-story motel, has not been used in at least 20 years.

“The building was commissioned by Union Pacific, and it was intended for when the guys got off the train at the depot, they just walked down here, and this is where they laid over,” said Cory Lynn Loghry, co-owner of the hotel “So, it was heavily known as a railroad spot for years and years. Then it became a little dilapidated.”

Loghry, who owns and operates Lynn Buys Houses and Lynn Manages Houses, purchased the location in March. The bank wasn’t enthusiastic about the endeavour, especially after seeing how much it would cost, but Loghry saw potential.

In a little over 29 days, she and her business partner and co-property owner, Carter Ward, owner of Ward’s Insulation and Concrete Lifting, managed to transform the ground floor of Central Plaza into a French infusion restaurant by the name of Paris West.

They were hoping to find someone interested in owning and operating the restaurant space, someone with a concept that corresponded with their own vision for Central Plaza.

French restaurant

No suitors came along.

Loghry and Ward took matters into their own hands.

“We had others approach us for the bar and restaurant. It sounds snobbish, but we really wanted something cool, and the other ones weren’t very cool,” she said. “Everybody said, ‘You’re crazy. You could get money in there today without doing all of this work.’ But it just wasn’t the vibe that we want for the property.”

The restaurant will offer a mixture of French and Western cuisine. It’s supervised by Chef Kent Cottle, founder of Go Fuel Cafe, who chose to bring his talents to Paris West over a potential endeavor in Nashville, and Chef Vy, who studied French pastry art in Paris for several years.

They’re trying to avoid any pretension, if at all possible. Even though it will be trendy, and even though they serve French cuisine, Paris West should be a place where people can stop by, order a Jack and Coke, and fit in among patrons in the throes of a date night.

Paris West is only the beginning of their project, and one relatively small aspect within a larger concept.

In nine months, all 85 rooms that make up the Central Plaza Hotel will be reworked into an affordable studio apartment complex.

The lobby, at this time partially renovated, is one of the first spaces of the building to receive a fresh mid-century modern styling. Down the line, there will be an ax-throwing range, an indoor dog park — one floor of the complex will be pet-friendly — and a rooftop bar that operates under the license of Paris West.

Repairs

At the time Loghry and Ward showed the Wyoming Tribune Eagle around the premises, crews were in the middle of repairing the elevator, painting the chairs for the soft opening of Paris West, and hurling trashed appliances and structural disrepair from the upper balconies down to a truckload full of discarded insulation and motel amenities.

The restaurant, meanwhile, fully opened Friday for Cheyenne Frontier Days.

Mostly every part of the motel was being smashed, measured, drilled or discussed by some branch of construction specialist. They were passing materials to each other and delivering updates to Loghry and Ward. There was, however, one room on the second floor that was almost complete.

It was an old hotel room, now remodeled in consistent mid-century modern styling into a one-bedroom, one-bathroom studio apartment. The small space has room for a bed, a functional kitchenette, bathroom, couch and a television set.

When they first went to work on this staging room, original wallpaper from the 1960s covered the walls, TVs from what looked like the early 2000s sat on wooden dressers, and the bedsheets were visibly worn and aged.

All of the outdated appliances and amenities are now piled where the ax-throwing range will be, like an eclectic boneyard of hotels long forgotten.

“The former owners were wonderful people,” Loghry said. “There’s just some people that have a big dream and maybe don’t have the tools to get there. They wanted to do something really great, but they came to the realization that the dream they had for it wasn’t something that they were going to be able to make happen.”

The real work comes in updating the outdated internal aspects of the building, which is where Ward’s responsibilities kick in. The structural integrity of Central Plaza is sound.

“That’s not really my thing,” Loghry said, motioning to Ward. “I called him and said, ‘Would you come and look at this and see what you think?’ Just from that conversation, he said, ‘This is something I’ve always wanted to be a part of.’

“We didn’t really set out to do that together, but it’s been a phenomenal fit.”

The majority of Ward’s focus is on installing a new ventilation system, electrical wiring, an underground parking garage for residents and the addition of carbon fiber wrap to stabilize the balconies lining the exterior of each floor.

Without these structural renovations, the owners would be doing little more than dressing the building in a new coat of paint, only for it to eventually come crumbling down.

Loghry and Ward have secured a prime location, so the future apartment complex needs to achieve a degree of longevity by capturing and encouraging community spirit among its tenants. It will be the first major studio apartment building to serve downtown in recent years.

“When we first opened, before we started doing anything, about 30 guys here from the refinery were doing a turnabout,” Loghry said. “They were from Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, and they came down here they have a barbecue in the parking lot every night.

“That’s exactly what we hope will happen around here.”

Will Carpenter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Arts and Entertainment/Features Reporter. He can be reached by email at wcarpenter@wyomingnews.com or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.

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