WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Midwestern State University could benefit from more student housing in 2018, but not on campus. Will Kelty owns the old Crescent Hotel in downtown Wichita Falls and is working to turn 110 of the hotel's rooms into dorm rooms by July 1.
On Tuesday city council will consider spending $880,000 on a new fire suppression system. The 4B board told Kelty they would pay for the work as long as it was open for the next school year.
Kelty and city leaders believe this project will help fill in one of the final pieces to their downtown revitalization puzzle.
"You need people down here," Kelty said. "You need bodies down here supporting those businesses, becoming customers of those businesses, and that is what we are really lacking downtown right now."
Three years ago Kelty was in downtown Wichita Falls when the old hotel building caught his eye. He decided to buy it with a vision to turn it into housing.
That vision is now becoming a reality with his latest plan to renovate the second through fifth floors to have rooms, common areas, a swimming pool, and much more.
"I think this pool area is going to be fantastic," he said. "Obviously we got to get it back up and running and filled up. We're gonna resurface the deck and clean it up."
"It would be the biggest downtown development project we've had yet," C.E.O. of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce Henry Florsheim said.
Florsheim said the project would mean more people living downtown and create a bus route for even more students to get to the central business district.
"You create more of a demand for dinner spaces, weekend lunch and dinner spots, and all the other services that come with people living in a certain area," Florsheim added.
"As kids start to come back in the fall, I think downtown is going to be quite a bit from what it is today," Kelty said. "And I'm looking forward to it. I honestly believe they will just be a breath of fresh air if they are downtown and part of this downtown community."
Kelty hopes this project brings more people to a city near and dear to his heart.
"The bones of downtown originally attracted me," he said. "But it's the people that keep me going."
The rooms would cost $500 a month including utilities and the Highlander Public House and 8th Street Coffee have agreed to provide meal plans to the students. Parking would be available under the building and on the street.
Kelty said the rooms will be tailored to upperclassmen looking for a new experience and added once the project is done, he will shift his attention to adding 60 apartments on floors six through ten.