Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff America's Best Value Inn on Market Street in Amsterdam, shown Wednesday, has become a focus for city officials in their downtown revitalization plans.
By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
City of Amsterdam officials are putting a special focus right now on the future of the America's Best Value Inn in the downtown region.
In recent weeks, notices of sale and foreclosure went out into the community for the 10 Market St. location.
A public auction was scheduled to be held at the Montgomery County Courthouse at 11:30 a.m. March 15, but according the auction's referee, the sale had been postponed.
No new date has been set.
Robert von Hasseln, director of Community and Economic Development for the city, said Friday that the auction postponement was actually a result of conversations between the city and the broker.
"I talked to the broker, tried to explain to him the importance of having a good hotel downtown and avoiding just another vacant building," von Hasseln said.
According to von Hasseln's records, he said the building's owner went into arrears with payments to both the bank and the city.
"It's a significant amount of money," von Hasseln said.
The building had been taken up by the bank, which then hired hotel management company Prism Management to run the hotel in the meantime.
The auction notices began showing up mid-February, gaining attention from city officials.
Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said Wednesday that the problems that have existed with the hotel in the past began before the bank took hold of the property.
"My office had received considerable complaints about the food and the rooms and the cleanliness," she said. "But that was outside of my purview. We were not in charge of that."
When they heard the bank was taking over the building and possibly auctioning it off, Thane said that she preferred to see the economic development department work with the bank to attract what they would see as something instrumental to the downtown revitalization strategy.
Von Hasseln said city officials talked to the bank's broker and lawyer and suggested that it might be a good idea to postpone the auction, in order to let the city try to work with them in terms of giving them the right information to attract a good buyer.
If an auction were held, the person purchasing might be prepared to do something with it, or they might not, he said, but if someone is "buying for real" that could be quite different.
"I've alerted some developers that I know of who expressed interest in Amsterdam, one in particular who was interested in the hotel location," he said, adding later, "I think what's very important here is that people who are looking at the property need to know what kind of things are going on in Amsterdam."
Von Hasseln said that nearly $13.2 million has gone in to downtown projects over recent years, something a buyer or broker might not naturally know.
"I put together my top 25 reasons why somebody should buy the Best Value Inn so that people have a clearer idea on why it's advantageous to invest in that location and Amsterdam."
Thane said what she foresees for the location will be dependent on who they attract.
"We would be elated if we could get someone that would be interested in putting a new building in that place that is in more keeping with the historic character of the downtown structures that exist, but if it were to be someone who was going to come in and rehab the existing building, we would also be pleased," she said.
Von Hasseln said he would be happy if the hotel was running better than it is now, but the ideal situation would be much more.
He foresees a hotel a few stories higher than what stands now, with meeting rooms, a banquet space, and a fine-dining restaurant.
"It's kind of going to be a product of how the broker sells the bank on how much progress we're making because getting a sale done will probably net the bank more than just putting it up for auction," he said. "The broker and city are trying to show that (with) a little more effort on this, the bank might get a better deal.
"That also means that we might get a better deal for the city."
Thane said that a lot of projects are underway for the downtown and the 10 Market St. property is part of that downtown vision.
"That property is really ideally located for something wonderful, but because of the quality of the lodging there, I think people are adverse to staying downtown overnight," she said. "What we want to see is a situation where people are attracted to staying downtown and visiting the surrounding region and city sites."