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Work is progressing slowly on downtown hotel

Friday, June 27, 2014 - Updated: 10:29 AM

By CASEY CROUCHER

casey.croucher@recordernews.com

America's Best Value Inn on Market Street has been closed for almost a week in anticipation of renovations to transform the hotel into a Hampton Inn & Suites.

City Community and Economic Development Director Robert von Hasseln confirmed that the new owners of the building closed it for the season because renovations would not be possible with guests staying at the hotel.

He said the company is looking at reopening the building as a Hampton Inn & Suites by December.

"They weren't planning on closing down as quickly as they did, but they had to do it at some point," von Hasseln said.

American Hotel and Hospitality Management, the company hired to do the project, and the project's manager originally planned to start the project earlier in the year.

"During the initial conversations [the project manager] said they would start earlier," von Hasseln said, "and complete the project around July or August but they're a little behind."

After the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Develop-ment Council submitted a list of recommendations for state funding last year, the state awarded the hotel project $1 million in May to renovate the building.

The Hampton Inn & Suites project is a $5.8 million plan to transform the America's Best Value Inn. The council proposed $900,000 in funding for the project, which will create 25 jobs, and retrofit the existing 125-room hotel with an indoor pool and waterslide.

Von Hasseln said the goal is still in sight, and will be met.

"Everything is proceeding, just not as quickly as we had planned," he said.

Under former management, von Hasseln said nothing was being done with America's Best Value Inn regarding negative online reviews from past guests. So when a letter arrived at city hall from the former owner's lawyer, things started to look promising.

"We got this letter at city hall that said they were throwing the keys to the hotel on the table and the city could do whatever we wanted with the building," he said. "The next thing we saw was a notice for an auction."

Von Hasseln said he called bankers and real estate agents and asked if they would give the city time to promote the building to bidders.

"They postponed the auction for about a month," he said. "And in that time I came up with 25 reasons to get a refurbished hotel here in the city, and the reasons spread everywhere; it helped turn the people around and get them interested in putting in a solid bid for the building."

He said after the hotel got serious bidders, the bank cut a little under half a million dollars in back taxes to the city.

"Nobody throws out that unless they've done their homework and know it's the way to go and know the hotel will help," he said.

Mayor Ann Thane said she's happy the project is moving forward.

"We should begin to see activity over the next few weeks," she said. "This is a key component to our downtown revitalization strategy, along with the traffic repatterning, waterfront development, and train station relocation."

She said even though the city isn't part of the team improving the hotel, the project is going to be important to Amsterdam's rebirth.

"Yes, there were complaints before, but we are on to a new era," she said. "This is good news for Amsterdam considering the construction of our destination pedestrian bridge and the improvements we've made to Main Street and Bridge Street."

Von Hasseln said there isn't anyone working on the Market Street site yet, but there will be soon. "The project is still a go," he said.

     

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