Tour of Cabana Hotel Renovation Project

Vacant for 6 years, a jail for 30 years, Cabana Hotel opened in 1963

Construction is about to begin on restoration of the old Cabana Hotel on the Stemmons Freeway in Dallas after years of preparation and stripping the interior down to a shell.

Developer Mehrdad Moayedi is paying close attention the building's history and original design.

"I think that really makes the place special. When you redo it, you do it in a good way, it really becomes interesting," Moayedi said.

EXCLUSIVE: Tour of Cabana Hotel Renovation Project

The hotel first opened in 1963. The Beatles and Led Zeppelin were among the famous guests in the 60's and 70's. Actress Raquel Welch was a cocktail waitress there before she went to Hollywood. Actress Doris Day was an original investor.

But as the building aged it was purchased by Dallas County and was used as a jail from 1984 to 2013.

It has been vacant the last 6 years and there was talk of demolition.

Moayedi's company purchased the property and spent the past two years assembling historic designation that will allow tax credit financing. A City of Dallas Tax Increment Financing District will also help support the $100 million restoration project.

"So, now we're ready to put it back together," Moayedi said.

He is the same developer that recently completed the larger Statler Hotel on Commerce Street.

David Preziosi with Preservation Dallas is pleased that the Cabana Hotel will also be saved.

"It was a very hip hotel for the time. It was a place to be seen," he said. "I think it will really attract a lot of people to it because it's a real interesting building."

The Dallas Cabana Hotel was built by developer Jay Sarno, who went on to build Caesar's Palace and Circus Circus in Las Vegas.

"I think with his design here, he's sort of testing out the sort of 'over the top' design and experience with the Cabana here in Dallas," Preziosi said.

Moayedi intends to restore the lavish, colorful interior, brightly lit entry and large hotel sign.

A new freeway ramp under construction may block views of the Cabana, but Moayedi sees the up close traffic path as an additional opportunity.

"That means a lot of people will see us, and if you have a great place, people will come," Moayedi said.

Another two years of construction are ahead to reopen the Dallas Cabana Hotel.

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