OSHKOSH - An on-and-off deal for the sale of the City Center Hotel has been completed, with the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Foundation and two private hotel companies purchasing the property.
In September, a deal was announced for the UWO Foundation to purchase the convention center hotel. But by November, the deal had fallen through because the cost of renovation was deemed too steep.
Richard Batley of RB Hospitality in Neenah and John Pfefferle of Pfefferle Companies, Inc. will partner with the UW-Oshkosh Foundation. The $2 million purchase deal was finalized Tuesday morning.
"Our intent is to do this right. It's very important that we open this up," said Batley.
The group says the renovations will cost around $9 million. The renovations are set to begin immediately. The hotel is now closed as of Tuesday. The group hopes the remodeled hotel will be finished by January 1, 2013.
"This is a community project. The community has to be involved," said Pfefferle.
"There are no taxpayer dollars or student tuition dollars involved, and that's in part with the outstanding work of the UW-Oshkosh Foundation," said UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells.
Wells says some of the proceeds from the center will go to fund educational programs and scholarships through the UW-Oshkosh Foundation.
Oshkosh Area Community Foundation President and CEO Eileen Connolly-Keesler says more than 200 construction jobs will be created for the project. UW-Oshkosh Chancellor Richard Wells says he hopes dozens of permanent hospitality jobs will also be created once the center reopens.
Oshkosh city officials, as well as the chamber of commerce, say they look forward to the public-private venture. The city manager says it's unclear how large of a TIF the city would give to the ownership group.
The Oshkosh Area Chamber of Commerce says it hasn't hosted a multi-day convention in the downtown area in more than three years. It says it hopes a new business-oriented, state-of-the-art facility will draw people in.
Local business owners say having a newly remodeled hotel will help attract more business.
"It has been a sore spot for many of us because it's just a place that people didn't want to stay because it's not kept up well, and it's just an exciting time for us downtown," said Chandra Anderson, owner of Caramel Crunch and Cafe, which is located one block from the hotel.
The total projected project cost is $11 million.
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