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[IMGCAP(1)]PHOENIX-A massive renovation has begun to convert Cendant Corp.’s former 121,000-sf regional headquarters building into a 192-room Hilton Garden Inn. The $15.5-million renovation will include a complete interior demolition and re-skinning.

The 40-year-old building at 3838 E. Van Buren St. is part of the three-building, 155,487-sf Gateway West office park, which was bought in May 2007 by locally based Equus Development Corp. from Brookfield Real Estate of Toronto for $11.6 million. The Phoenix-based owner last fall secured a franchise agreement with Beverly Hills, CA-based Hilton Hotels Corp. to put the Hilton Garden Inn flag onto the 10-story building.

William Reynolds, project manager for Summit Builders of Phoenix, says the structure is perfect for a Hilton prototype because the column layout fits well into the rooms’ width. The reason for the good fit is it was a hotel before it became the regional headquarters for the New York City-based Cendant, he says.

[IMGCAP(2)]The structure is being outfitted with a swimming pool, lobby, lounge, fitness and business centers and conference rooms. The renovation also will add new mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems. The interior will be gutted and the exterior will be re-skinned. “The reason is the existing window openings aren’t correct in size or location for the unit suites,” Reynolds tells GlobeSt.com. “By the time we’d have to install new window openings or modify windows in their old locations, we’re not left with much exterior at all so we’ll need to strip the skin.”

Even with the challenge of retrofitting a headquarters building into a hotel, Reynolds is confident Summit will have everything complete by the fourth quarter. “A ground-up is easier,” he acknowledges. “But once we get past a certain stage of exterior skinning, then moving ahead isn’t a problem.” Orcutt Winslow of Phoenix is the project designer.

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