Historic hotel may see revival

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(Host) A Bellows Falls landmark may see a revival.

Last night Rockingham officials revealed the terms of a proposal to sell the Hotel Windham to a trio of investors.

VPR’s Susan Keese has more:

(Keese) The town of Rockingham, which includes Bellows Falls village, has owned the defunct three-story hotel for almost a decade. It occupies a key corner of the main downtown square. It was a well known gay destination in the 1980s.

The hotel was in receivership when the town received a federal grant to buy it from the bank in 1996. The village had a lot of empty storefronts then.

Richard Ewald is Rockingham’s development director. He says the town stepped in to keep the historic building and its ground floor retail space from being chopped up into apartments.

(Ewald) “And we have been the landlords for the property ever since and are really forward to getting it back in private hands and having it back on the tax rolls and we’re really pleased that we found some developers with local ties.”

(Keese) Two of the partners are Jay Eschelman and Tony Elliot. Both were founding partners of Sovernet, the Bellows Falls based Internet company, which they sold last year. The other partner is a Massachusetts developer.

Elliot says it’s a good time for Bellows Falls.

(Elliot) “There’s a lot of people that have relocated here, a lot of folks trying to establish new businesses. You know there’s vitality and the music scene has been very good and it’s just part of the ‘creative economy’ as we call it.”

(Keese) Elliot says he hopes the hotel will become a gathering place and a resource for businesses. The partners plan to create office space in the upper floors as well as conference rooms and 12 boutique’ hotel rooms. They say they’ll look for tenants to run the hotel and restaurant.

The building already has three retail tenants and potentially room for one more.

The group plans to invest at least $1.2 million in the first stage of work. The town has tentatively agreed to sell the building for $50,000 dollars.

If all goes well they hope to close on the building in March.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Susan Keese.

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