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Troubled Hotel Brunswick in downtown Lancaster being taken over by noted developer John Meeder

by thiryj

Originally Published Aug 05, 2013 23:53
Staff Writer

The doors were locked at the Hotel Brunswick on Monday. A sign in the window stated “This Hotel is Closed!”

But closure of the troubled downtown landmark won’t last long, and the reopening, likely in several weeks, already is eagerly anticipated by city officials.

“We’re just rolling up our sleeves,” said real estate developer John Meeder, who announced Monday that he and partners have completed an agreement to take over operations of the nine-story hotel.

Meeder, of Meeder Development Corp., will lease the hotel with the intent of purchasing the property at 151 N. Queen St. within two years.

He is busy this week doing initial renovations, including relocating the second-level lobby to the street level, along the first block of East Chestnut Street. Work also will be done on the pool before the reopening, he said.

“We’ll try to salvage some part of the season,” said Meeder.

Yet, he added, the partners will not rush to reopen the building.

“We’re not going to do it until we’re satisfied it’s ready,” he said.

The 223-room hotel has been beset with problems.

Last year, Lancaster city officials and the county District Attorney’s Office filed complaints against the hotel seeking to have it declared a public nuisance. Officials contended drug use, brawls and underage drinking were occurring there.

In May, a county judge ordered hotel owners and managers to improve security, require hotel guests to show identification and banned the sale of alcohol on the premises.

The south wing of the property, along Lancaster Square, remains condemned after significant mold growth was discovered by city inspectors last year.

A June 2012 homicide in the parking garage adjacent to the hotel was called “the final straw” by city Mayor Rick Gray. That shooting involved a dispute between patrons of a nightclub then located inside the hotel.

On Monday, Gray blamed out-of-area ownership for the hotel’s problems.

“Now that the negotiations have concluded, we can begin to improve it to make it the asset that it can be,” Gray said of the hotel.

Meeder credited Gray and city Economic Development & Neighborhood Revitalization Director Randy Patterson for helping to broker the agreement.

The five owners of the Brunswick in recent years have been based in various areas, including Lewes, Del., Santa Monica, Calif., and Los Angeles.

As recently as last month, the property was listed for sale at $8.5 million.

Meeder said the new operators will be taking steps to distance the hotel from its recent past. Those steps will include a name change and other details to be announced in coming weeks.

“We hope to divorce ourselves from some of the problems,” he said.

When it reopens, Meeder promises the hotel will have clean rooms and a clean lobby and be well-run.

It remains unclear how many guest rooms will be ready when the hotel reopens, he said.

“There is a lot of capacity at that hotel that has yet to be realized,” said Meeder.

Courtesy of Lancaster Online (The Intelligencer/Lancaster New Era.) Read the full article here:

Troubled Hotel Brunswick in downtown Lancaster being taken over by noted developer John Meeder – News.