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New life for Cottonwood's Sundial Motel
New owners Sandy and Billy Baker have already begun their renovation of the 80-year-old historic Cottonwood’s Sundial Motel. VVN/Jon Hutchinson
8/19/2012 7:36:00 AM
By Jon Hutchinson
COTTONWOOD -- There is a bright light shining on Cottonwood's Sundial Motel. Sandy and Billy Baker closed escrow on the purchase of 80-year-old historic motel last Friday and began making changes the next day.
They said they came through Cottonwood as customers and have been looking at the Sundial for about four years.
"Old Town has really come up and everybody wanted the last piece of the puzzle. It was the right time and the price was right. We just came in at that time and placed an offer," explained Billy Baker.
The Sundial was originally the Eden Auto Court. William Francis Edens, who also owned the Cottonwood Lumber Co. from 1930 to 1933, built it. The structure was built of poured concrete and faced with river rock after fires had chewed away at the town's wooden structures. It cost Edens $12,000 to build, according to documents from the Cottonwood Historical Society. The motel was originally a drive-in auto court. Cars parked in what is now a well-treed courtyard. Dozens of windows on the second story formed an open porch.
Early this year, the Bakers refurbished a former apartment across the street behind an ornamental gate as the Wine Cellar. Dionysian Cellars in Jerome opened more recently carrying the label above the door.
The Bakers are very hands on. "Billy likes the construction part. I like to decorate," said Sandy. "I wish you could have seen the office. In one day I threw everything out and brought stuff in, painted and put new carpet down. I like to take a building and re-do it, refurbished the old."
They did the same thing at the Wine Cellar, an apartment where a man lived in for 20 years.
Sandy has a long-term plan for the Sundial. "I want to go through and re-do each room, so it won't be the same furniture in each room. Each room will be distinctive. We had a 40-foot dumpster delivered Monday and it's full already. This is an all-concrete building ... walls, floor, roof. If it is not concrete or rock, it's going to be pulled out. All the building officials were here yesterday. We have to wait approval on the sheet rock. I want to re-do it and want to do it right."
They have clearly begun to clean house and want to change the reputation. "We have evicted two people. We cleaned out five rooms. There is a no-tolerance policy. No alcohol. No drugs. No 'hundred people' in a room. We aren't having that."
"It is operating as an apartment complex right down, where people who can't afford anything else come here. We are not running it like that. It's going to be brought up to a hotel," Sandy insists.
"We have plans. We just have to wait for the city to agree or not. We hope to take the first three units up front and make them into commercial, so we will have more downtown traffic and then move the office back. It is zoned residential right now.
"We don't have a timeframe. We are just going to work," said Billy. "There are too many factors to set a schedule for completion. We are just going to get it done as we can."
Wiring and plumbing is not part of the need. "All that has been redone. We are very fortunate, When we did due diligence, we found that wiring and plumbing are in wonderful shape. We want to replace the doors and put down flooring. Everything is just pretty dated. It needs to be brought up to date," he said
The Bakers met back east after Billy got out of the military. They have another business there with "hospitality units."
"There is not enough overnight capacity in Jerome. Sedona is expensive. You have a train down here that packs them in almost every day. You have shops down here. You have a destination now. Before there was not a destination. You have draws here now," Billy said in explaining the appeal of the Sundial.
They have been watching the changes in Old Town. "It's nice to see it happen and the improvements. It really started at that end of the street and rolled down hill. The number one thing is the business friendly atmosphere of the City. They will really try to help you open your business. We've worked in other towns to build businesses and you wait six months to do this, and six months to do that. Cottonwood is a very helpful town. They want business here they want growth."
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