Less than 100 days before the George W. Bush Presidential Center opens at Southern Methodist University, neighboring businesses are preparing for a flood of new visitors.
The new owners of the Holiday Inn Central Park Cities are completing an $8 million renovation of the Old Radisson Hotel.
"This has been a total gut renovation of the building. Every single room has been redone completely, all new wall coverings, all new bathrooms, everything," said Jon Pettee with TriGate Capital.
A finishing touch of LED lighting that wraps up the front of the hotel to the roof will be completed by next month.
Pettee said TriGate would not have purchased the old hotel if not for the expectation of big business from the Bush Center.
"There will be researchers. There'll be association groups from Texas and from outside. There will be student groups from all over. We think a lot of people will not be necessarily coming here by plane but either by bus or by car from neighboring states. There will be tourists in the summer and that's a down period for hotels in Texas," Pettee said.
Hotel Palomar at Central and Mockingbird is completely sold out for the first weekend in May when the Bush Center opens.
"We've already started to see an increase in business during the construction phase of the library and we would expect to see a lot more once the library opens," said Hotel Palomar General Manager Andrew Wright. "I think all the retail spaces and all the folks in this area are certainly looking forward to the library opening soon," he said.
The Bush Center will house the Bush Presidential Library and the Bush Institute, a policy think tank.
"The President and Mrs. Bush started the planning of this building when they were still in the White House and the Dallas community has certainly responded," said Sally McDonough, spokesperson for the Center.
The parking lot across the street on the SMU campus is completed and workers have begun moving plane loads of Presidential archive material into the library from temporary storage at a Lewisville warehouse.
Library Director Alan Lowe said the library collection includes around 70 million pages of paper records, over 40 thousand artifacts, 4 million photographs and over 80 terabytes of electronic information, including over 200 million emails, all of which must be cataloged.
"So that's a real challenge, but also a great resource for us," Lowe said.
Dozens of library workers have been hired to make the material available to the public.
"That’s the whole idea, to have the museum and archive there to research, to learn, to teach about how the government works, how this Presidency worked, and teach about American history in general," Lowe said.
McDonough said attendance of between 350,000 and 500,000 a year is forecast based on the numbers from other Presidential Libraries but Bush Center attendance could be even higher.
"We’re one of the first to be located in city central, so we’re very excited and we have a lot to offer the community and we’re glad to be here," McDonough said.