UPDATE 07/23/2015 10:17 AM
In Parkersburg, the old Uptowner Inn project continues moving along.
Next week, city council could help push the project even further.
On next week's agenda, one of the five resolutions authorizes Mayor Colombo to provide $200,000 worth of assistance to the project.
This money was already allocated, but because of a delay in the project, dates needed to be changed.
One sponsor of the bill says the money will come back to the city in several ways.
"It's not just the hotel/motel tax, but, it's the assurance of long-term jobs that have to be created, as well, which is looking out for the benefit of people in our city that need a job," says Parkersburg City Councilman John Rockhold.
Rockhold says much of the money will be used toward job creation at what will eventually be an extended stay Marriott and more of it will be used to purchase items necessary to open the inn to the public.
UPDATE: 7/16/2015 5:45 PM
You may have driven by the old Uptowner Inn recently and noticed some small changes. Renovations haven't started, but crews are prepping for construction.
A chain linked fence has been added to the perimeter of the building and trees have been trimmed for scaffolding.
The project contractor says they're waiting on drawings to be finalized and approved by state and local inspectors.
The old building is being converted into a Mariott, which means, the company has their own standards for construction.
"We've been ready to go for a long time, but because of the complexity of this building, just starting with an existing building, every time we do something with the plans, it's not from scratch, but it has to be built around the current structure so it's a little more challenging than building something from scratch.," says Steve Keiser, Vice-President and CEO of project contractor Christy and Associates.
Officials say they don't have an exact start for construction, but they are getting closer to this long-awaited project.
Update: 5/07/2015 5:35 P.M.
It's been almost a year since it was announced the old Uptowner Inn would be converted into an extended stay hotel.
But the renovation is taking longer than expected.
When it was announced last June, the plan was for the reconverted Marriott to be opened by springtime.
There obviously have been a few delays-and even a change in the original design.
The building is 50 years old, and it's been nearly 30 years since the Uptowner closed.
But the project developer says it has been tested to ensure it has been structurally sound.
And since the weather has been warmer, the work at the site has stepped up.
"It helped the construction people set up their demolition work on the upper floors, helped dry up some of the water from the work we did on the upper ceilings, and removing the asbestos," says Steve Keiser, Vice-President and CEO of project contractor Christy and Associates. "It's all cleaned up now; it's in good shape right now."
There is one change in the original construction plan.
Keiser's firm will present to Parkersburg's façade committee next week, plans to change the front of the building, to a new design the Marriott chain has just introduced.
Keiser says the final portion of the demolition will happen next week.
That's the removal of the vertical panels at the front and back of the building.
He believes, even with the recent decline in oil and gas drilling, the new hotel will be a major destination, thanks in part to its downtown location.
Update: 1/21/2015 5:25 P.M.
The man in charge of the renovation of the former Uptowner Inn tells us there will be a new motel at its Seventh Street site in Parkersburg. Its completion date just won't be as early as it was first reported.
He says the Marriott chain still hasn't approved the project's architectural drawings, which haven't been completed yet.
That slowed down the start of construction, which now has to wait out the winter.
"We have to get the finalized plans from Marriott," says Steve Keiser of Christy and Associates, "and there are some changes we have to work around. We have to finalize our bank financing, which is less of an issue right now. But I think construction will start in March, which is when you'll see a lot of people on site."
Keiser also says a new roof needs to be added to the building, which was gutted last summer.
He says rebuilding an old structure is more difficult than tearing down a building to construct a new one.
And the delays have nothing to do with the city of Parkersburg.
Keiser says all the necessary documentation has been worked out with the city.
UPDATE 7/23/2014 5:40 PM
Another part of the Uptowner Inn renovation gets the green light.
The city's Façade Committee Wednesday morning approved plans to redo the outside of the structure.
It's the location of a new Marriott extended stay hotel, scheduled to open some time next year.
The outside changes involve newer brick work and partitioning.
But some parts of the old building will be retained, including the outside stone structure and the building's carport.
Construction on the new hotel got under way last week.
UPDATE 7/22/2014 4:40 PM
Developers said renovation of the former Uptowner Inn would begin this month.
They were right.
And you've probably noticed it if you've gone by the long-vacant motel building in the past week.
The inside of the structure is being gutted in preparation for its renovation into a Marriott Residence Inn.
But some other details have to be worked out before the construction work actually begins.
"They had to acquire a demolition permit first. That's why you see some fencing going up around the building. The windows have been taken out, and they're coming to the city's downtown façade review committee for approval of plans to replace some of the fascia and the windows on the building," says Rickie Yeager, Parkersburg Development Director.
Yeager says the new extended stay hotel is just one more sign of a revitalized downtown Parkersburg.
The new hotel is expected to open next spring.
UPDATE 7/1/2014 4:50 PM
It's a big month ahead for the economic future of downtown Parkersburg.
Work begins on transforming the old Uptowner Inn into an extended stay Marriott.
We still don't have an exact date when renovations start.
But the mayor's office says crews will work on the building's exterior.
Along with making the building look like a Marriott, property across the street was bought for parking.
Construction will cost more than $7 million and the hotel will have 84 suites.
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell is excited to see the impact of more good economic news happening downtown.
"When Blue Cross built their building, that was a significant plum for the downtown area that really helped a couple restaurants flourish," he says. "And then when WVU Parkersburg Downtown Center announced that attracted some as well. And now this hotel will also."
The building was gutted 20 years ago, stripped of all utilities and the interior walls were removed.
Marriott says the hotel is expected to be complete next spring.
UPDATE 6/20/2014 4:30 PM
The car dealers renovated, and now this may help keep revitalizing the Seventh Street business district.
And a former city official who also runs a restaurant there likes what he sees.
Former Parkersburg Mayor Jimmy Colombo is among those who tried, unsuccessfully, to bring a new tenant to the former Uptowner motel.
Colombo and his family ran a restaurant on Seventh Street long before he became mayor.
He says the new extended stay hotel will bring more traffic to the Seventh Street area.
That's not only because of the Corridor D changes, but because of the growing oil and gas industry.
"I think you'll see more traffic on Seventh Street. I think this hotel will also bring more traffic to Seventh Street, because you have a (route) 50 interchange to get off, you have the Camden Avenue and route 47 interchanges, and you have the one downtown, too," says Colombo.
The hotel's developers have not only purchased the Uptowner property, but also the lot across the street.
That improves the availability of parking for the 57,000 square foot building.
And maybe something that's been left out of this discussion about the hotel is that the owners plan to hire 25 people to run and to work in it.
UPDATE 6/19/2014 6:00 PM
Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell announces an extended stay Marriott is opening at the old Uptowner Inn in downtown Parkersburg.
UPDATE 6/19/2014 3:25 PM
The City of Parkersburg's development director, Rickie Yeager, says Mayor Bob Newell is holding a press conference at 5:00 p.m. Thursday regarding the future of the Uptowner Inn in downtown Parkersburg.
Representatives from Uptowner Lodging, LLC will be on hand, as well.
The company recently purchased the property, which is slated for redevelopment.
The Uptowner Inn was built in 1963 and closed in 1987.
We will have the latest on WTAP News at 5:00 and 6:00.
Updated: 8/14/2013 7:10 P.M.
Parkersburg City Council has transferred to its urban renewal authority the long-vacant Uptowner Inn property on Seventh Street.
That allows the authority to sell the property to developers who want to renovate the complex for a new hotel.
"They've purchased property around that building, and the building," said Mayor Bob Newell Wednesday. "They've taken a lot of huge steps to getting this done. So we're certainly optimistic it's going to be done."
Mayor Newell says the Yptowner project is one of the first to result from the completion of Corridor D in the past decade.
And a developer told city council's public works committee Tuesday night about plans to build a concert park on land the city owns across from the city's skate park.
It would be used for musical shows and other entertainment events.
Norm Payne is seeking to lease that land from the city.
Payne told council sponsors are being sought for the project, which would be built with private funding.
“Anything that increases traffic into the downtown adds to the momentum game,” says Cecil Childress, general manager of the Blennerhassett Hotel.
The Uptowner Inn, on the corner of Seventh and Green streets, is the site of the original Parkersburg High School. The building later became Washington Junior High and was replaced by the Uptowner in 1963. The hotel closed its doors in 1987.
The building formerly boasted about 100 rooms, but the new structure will house about 70 slightly larger rooms and include kitchenettes for extended stays.
“We hope to get some people from perhaps the federal government is a good candidate, Blue Cross is here, they're a good candidate. There are also four funeral homes in downtown Parkersburg that are good customers on weekends,” says Steve Keiser, vice president and chief operating officer of Christy & Associates, a business development company working with the city. “So a lot of good possibilities for this hotel.”
Keiser says officials plan to pick a franchise within the next two months and then construction will get underway. They hope to open the new Uptowner by next summer. He expects the company to invest about $4 million on the project.
After standing vacant for 25 years, the Uptowner is finally getting a makeover.
“The whole time I've been mayor I've talked to Larry Morehead (current building owner) several times,” says Mayor Bob Newell. “He's had several people that were interested in the building, but for one reason or another just either couldn't come up with the funding or just couldn't make it work for what they wanted to do. He's continued to seek out the right people for this type of a project and in fact, found the right people.”
Catering to those who need it with long-term lodging.
“What we'd like to do, there's a segment of the market that we don't think is being addressed in Parkersburg and that's extended stay. The Uptowner is a perfect property for that,” Keiser says. “We should have the ability to accommodate guests for longer periods of time.”
Aside from the mall, downtown Parkersburg has grown awfully quiet -- something the revitalization strives to change.
“One of the challenges that this area has had, it's had a lot going on but it's been difficult to have critical mass in one location,” Childress says.
Through the years, many people voiced concern over the Uptowner and what if nobody ever goes there.
“What are we going to do with that big abandoned building,” Newell recalls them saying. “But no, this is an extremely exciting project.”
Downtown can only benefit from the new Uptowner Inn.
“It's one more asset that we have in downtown that's going to benefit everyone involved,” Childress says.