The former Manchester Inn was officially transferred from the city of Middletown to its new owner on Thursday.
The new owner, Manchester Hotel LLC of Ohio, finalized the closing on the hotel and the adjoining Snider Building on Sept. 25 and is already deep in the redevelopment process.
“We’ve defined our plans for the properties, which includes investing $10 million for redevelopment,” said William Grau, in a release issued by the city. Grau, a developer with Historic Urban Development LLC in Geneva, Ill., and is managing member of the new ownership group. The group’s focus is the adaptive reuse of significant historic buildings and Grau plans to use his 30 years of experience in the construction, contracting and development industry to carefully bring the 92-year-old hotel back to life, according to the news release..
Plans include restoring the outside of the hotel to its original 1922 appearance. Grau’s organization said The Manchester will remain a hotel in its newest incarnation with an 8,000-square-foot banquet hall; and several thousand square feet of conference and meeting space. The facility will also include a full-service restaurant and bar. In all, the restored hotel is expected to employ 73 full- and part-time workers, according to the press release from the city.
Some improvements have already been done to the site, including making repairs to the hotel’s roof and treating it for mold as well as addressing concerns about the structural integrity of the hotel’s canopies. Grau’s organization requested a city inspection of the canopies that found them in poor structural condition and needed to be dismantled to prevent further ongoing damage to the building. The canopies, made of stainless steel, were dismantled in the past few weeks.
“The hotel has been closed for more than three years and needed some immediate attention,” Grau said in the release.
The Ohio Historic Preservation Advisory Board, at its June meeting, unanimously approved the city’s nomination of the hotel to the National Register of Historic Places. While not guaranteeing that the hotel will be accepted at the national level, the nomination enables the developer to submit an application for historic and new market tax credits on Sept. 30. If the hotel receives those credits, construction could start as soon as spring 2015 with a completion date of spring 2016, the release said.
“The Manchester is an important landmark for the city,” said Denise Hamet, city economic development director. “The redevelopment of this property is another key component for the continuing revitalization of our urban core.”
While the city acquired several downtown buildings over the past few years, the Manchester Inn was more than just a building for generations of Middletonians.
Local historian Sam Ashworth said the Manchester, which closed more than three years ago, was where many memories were made for many residents celebrating milestones in their lives, including special family dinners, business lunches, banquets, wedding receptions, high school proms and the annual Charity Ball.
“There were lots of personal experiences at the hotel,” he said. “I think people will get more excited about that building than the others because of that personal connection.”
Ashworth said the hotel was built by some local investors and was eventually acquired by Armco Steel before it was sold to private investors.
The property was last renovated in 1995 with $1.7 million in upgrades to the guest rooms, corridors, lobby and front desk area. In 2009, the Manchester closed briefly after suffering severe water damage in the ballroom and kitchen from a pipe bursting. About $250,000 was spent to repair the damages
Earlier this year, City Council voted unanimously to sell the Manchester Inn to Grau. The city purchased the Manchester for $175,000 after it closed in 2011 and forgave about $150,000 in debt as part of a bundle of downtown properties when it thought Cincinnati State Technical and Community College was going to use the Manchester for its culinary and hospitality programs as part of its Middletown branch campus.
The city was asking $325,000 for the Manchester, but accepted Grau’s $1 offer.