ETR Staff report

A Tyler landmark passed into new ownership as Dallas-based developer Tai Ly purchased this structure so iconic to Smith County. Located at 106, 112 and 116 East Elm Streets the old hotel, which also served for years as a Smith County Office Building, went for $537,500. Burns Commercial Properties was the broker for Smith County on the sale. Closing documents were signed January 12. The 90,000-square-foot facility has been around longer than most Tyler residents, and Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran made certain he carefully explained the transaction.

“Returning the dilapidated Carlton Hotel complex back to private business with a plan to develop it in the next few years is the highest and best long-term use for that property,” he said. “This will help promote economic development in the county seat and serve to compliment the City of Tyler’s longstanding efforts to revitalize downtown.”

The sales contract stipulates that the buyer is to commence upgrading the structure within 36 months of the transaction. The total costs of the improvements are to total not less than $1 million, to include demolition expenses and architect and engineer fees. Within 90 days following the closing the buyer agreed to apply for all required permits. Construction is set to commence within nine months, by which time the buyer is to have paid at least $650,000 in improvement costs. The contract also establishes that Smith County representatives and agents have the right to inspect the site to insure compliance with these stipulations.

The 200-room Carlton Hotel opened for business in 1954. It was regarded as ultra-modern with window-unit air-conditioning and five-channel television sets in every room. There was a rooftop swimming pool and cabanas, banquet hall/ballroom, and even an electric elevator. After 17 years in business the hotel was closed down and shuttered in 1971. Six years later it was bought by Smith County and re-opened, housing such municipal offices as the Smith County Sheriff’s Department, Smith County District Attorney’s Office, and the Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace and Constable’s Office. The last civic office moved out of the Carlton Hotel in 2013.