Denison University has agreed to buy the historic Granville Inn, planning to invest in its rehabilitation.
The university has long done business with the Jacobethan-style restaurant, hotel and banquet facility, which is about three blocks from the Granville campus and has been in receivership for more than a year.
“The Granville Inn’s facilities and functions are vital both to the village and to the college,” said Seth Patton, Denison’s
vice president for finance and management.
“Denison certainly did not plan to become an innkeeper,” Patton said, “but because of the strong ties and shared interests between Denison and Granville, we are committed to this project.”
The stone and half-timbered structure built in 1927 by coal and railroad magnate John Sutphin Jones and designed by prominent Columbus architect Frank L. Packard includes the properties at 304, 314 and 348
E. Broadway, the university said.
“The goal is to enhance the Granville Inn, making it a vital and successful business,” Patton said. “Weighed against all others, there may be more attractive investment opportunities from a purely financial perspective, but few that are more important to Granville and Denison.”
A group of local businesspeople calling themselves Granville Hospitality bought the property for $800,000 in 2003. But the global financial crisis caused consumers to cut back on restaurant meals, travel and event spending — all of which significantly cut the inn’s business.
In late 2011, Heartland Bank in Gahanna foreclosed on the inn, citing a $1.7 million debt.
Since then, the inn’s
35 employees and managers “have been able to put the inn on a very stable financial basis,” said Bill Wolfe, president of CWB Property Management in Dublin, who was appointed more than a year ago by Licking County Common Pleas Court to manage and sell the property.
In June, Wolfe and Heartland Bank paid real-estate taxes, penalties and interest of nearly $252,000 owed by the property, clearing a major obstacle for a potential buyer.
By early this month, Urban Restorations had agreed to buy the inn for an undisclosed price, subject to inspections of its physical and financial operations. The inspections broke the deal.
“We had some issues that we couldn’t resolve,” said Robert Schilling, general manager of the Columbus company best-known for renovating historical housing. “It was the best thing to let somebody else do it. I think Denison is an excellent choice.”
The university has done its own inspections of the property and is “prepared to effect a seamless transition of ownership,” according to its statement. “The inn will remain on the village tax rolls and will continue to be operated in its current use, managed by a separate entity hired by Denison.”
Patton, who would not disclose the inn’s purchase price, said the university probably will complete the purchase within about 30 days. He could not name the company that will take over the inn’s management because that agreement has not been finalized.
However, Patton did say that the university is prepared to invest in the 86-year-old inn to maintain and rehabilitate it.
“During our research process, we came to understand the significant investment that will be needed to preserve and update the inn, and we are ready for that,” he said. “We feel fortunate to be able to act on this opportunity to invest in our remarkable community and in this iconic property.”
©2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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