Calvin Nolden is not your average entrepreneur. The Mississippi Delta native owns a restaurant, a construction company, rents houses, and multiple apartment complexes. If that wasn’t enough, he recently became the owner of another business when he opened a luxurious hotel in downtown Greenville. It was a project that took five years and one that many didn’t believe he could ever pull off. Naysayers had good reason to doubt him at first because when he bought the building, it was condemned and had been vacant for more than half a century.
“When I first purchased it, there were actually other construction workers, electricians, carpenters and plumbers that said, ‘It’s a lost cause,’” he said. “They said, ‘Man, you’ve got your work cut out for you.’ They just couldn’t see it. It was just that bad off. I never saw what they saw. I never see what other people see. What is life without challenges? Challenge is what makes me. The biggest part of your growth is opposition. Things that stall you and irritate you are the building blocks of your life. Obstacles make you and that is what has made me.”
He first purchased the building in March 2016. The once condemned and unoccupied structure is now a beacon of light featuring a restaurant, entertainment area, room service, large rooms, swivel 50-inch televisions, barn doors as well as remote control air conditioning units in all 15 rooms. It’s an old building that got a major facelift.
“We enhanced history,” Nolden said. “This is the same depressed look of the early 1900s, we just added flavor to it. This was a lodging area for the people that used to come over here and lodge after working at the railroad station across the street in the early 1900s. They would come over here and they would sleep. This place had been closed for 70 years.”
The downtown Greenville location definitely helps business as it is one of the busiest streets during the week and on the weekends.
“Downtown is the heart of every city,” he said. “Downtown is the original playbook of every city. It’s where all the civic activities are performed. When it looks good, it sets the pace for everything else in the city. Coming from Indianola, Greenville was the commodity of the Delta. It’s where all the malls were, it’s where the manufacturing companies were. Being raised in Indianola, we all had to come over here and shop. So, by us having to come over here and shop for so many years, it became a love for all of us. Greenville is home for all of us. Greenville was the biggest name in the Delta and I knew that if I ever came back, Greenville was going to be my primary spot.”
According to Nolden, Skylight Hotel is the first black-owned hotel in Greenville in recent history. That’s something he doesn’t take for granted.
“My main objective is to be the mantle for every young black person that’s coming after me,” he said. “With all of the stigmas, for us to be doing something on this level and for it to be legal and clean, provides a great example.”
The name of the hotel comes from the skylight in the center of the main hall. It’s a constant reminder to the business owner that the sky truly is the limit.
“My main goal is to expose people to something new and nice that they’ve never seen,” he said. “I’d like to expose them to elegance, to a taste that is unlike the Delta. Part of that goal is for people to come here and get inspired to motivate them to do more and enjoy the pleasure of the Delta without having to go other places.”
The hotel’s marketing manager, Trendarius Jimerson, is already working tirelessly to get the word out about the new hotel. And just like the project that took some time, Jimerson’s partnership with Nolden didn’t happen overnight.
“I met him two years ago and he was looking for someone to market the space downstairs,” Jimerson said. “However, I had too much going on with my job at another hotel so we didn’t link up but we stayed in contact. We recently reconnected and he asked if I was still working at the hotel. I said no and he said, ‘I own a hotel now.’ I’ve been enjoying my role ever since. I do all of the advertising and promos and it’s my pleasure to help get this business the exposure it deserves.”
Nolden is expecting to have a grand opening in the near future but officially opened in March. And just like any serial entrepreneur, he’s already looking for an expansion opportunity.
“I’m very ambitious,” he said. “I’m 50 years old and I’m still pretty youthful so I have no desire to slow down.”
To book a reservation, people can call 662-580-5114 or visit the hotel’s website, theskylight.business.site. Regular updates are also posted to the hotel’s Facebook page, @skylight745.