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New hotel opens in Petaluma’s Silk Mill

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After multiple delays due to uncooperative weather and unexpected snafus in construction, the historic landmark that was once a silk mill has finally found new life – this time as Hampton Inn Petaluma.

The repurposed brick building opened its doors at 450 Jefferson St. on June 29, providing East Petaluma with centralized lodging waking distance from downtown, the fairgrounds and the SMART station.

“Opening the Hampton Inn Petaluma in the old Silk Mill is very exciting for myself, and an opportunity to open a new hotel, which is something I’ve never done before,” said general manager Max Childs. “This is a whole new challenge for me.”

Over the last three years, the hotel suffered a series of setbacks during construction. Record rains in early 2017 and October’s firestorm didn’t do the developer, BPR Properties, any favors with meeting its timetable. Unforeseen retrofit issues and utility delays also caused delays.

“When you’re retrofitting a building like this, you never know what you’re going to run into,” Childs said. “They’ve had a few of those (moments), but so far they haven’t found any ghosts or anything like that.”

The building was originally constructed in 1892 as the Carlson-Currier Silk Mill, and was named a national historic landmark in 1986. Before the last 11 years of vacancy, the building housed a cord factory until 2007.

Childs, who spent 12 years managing the Courtyard by Marriott Santa Rosa, is leading the hospitality efforts of a 75-room hotel split between two floors.

Many of the rooms feature exposed brick walls, juxtaposing the historic appeal of the building with contemporary design.

Lining the hallways are original pillars, bolstered and painted to bear the weight of the building’s new tenants. The factory’s smoke stack and two towers were kept to maintain some structural resemblance.

Each room has 14-foot high ceilings, and is about 450 square feet in width.

In each room, iconic images of Petaluma landmarks adorn the walls, and scattering the light through the windows are curtains printed with a map of the city.

“It’s all about Petaluma,” Childs said.

While each room has all the usual amenities like a TV and mini-fridge, the eight suites are where the contrast becomes apparent. Some of the rooms have a wet bar, wine fridge and living area separate from the bedroom.

Around the corner from the lobby and front desk is a full bar and dining area where the hotel provides a complimentary breakfast – complete with waffles, eggs, breakfast meats, cereal and juice.

Seven of the rooms are still unfinished. Outside, construction also carries on as BPR looks to finish the parking lot and park area, but Childs said there will be a fountain and fire pit for guests to relax outdoors. Some of the sidewalks through the properties have lights hanging overhead, giving it a new look at night.

There is also a charging station for electric vehicles.

Childs said the response from guests has been “positive,” and many curious locals have already booked rooms just to have a chance to experience the new form of the historic building.

This week the hotel sold out its rooms for the first time, and Childs is hopeful that trend will continue.

“For us to come in and turn the lights back on and have a presence — I think it’s going to do great things for this area,” he said.

(Contact News Editor Yousef Baig at yousef.baig@arguscourier.com or 776-8461, and on Twitter @YousefBaig.)