Uptowner Inn set to reopen

PARKERSBURG – The Uptowner Inn, which has stood vacant for nearly 25 years, soon will be redeveloped and reopened.

Mayor Bob Newell announced Friday the building will be converted into an extended-stay hotel. Current building owner Larry Morehead and Frank Christy of Christy & Associates have been working with the city for several months on the project.

The building, at the corner of Seventh and Green streets, formerly boasted about 100 rooms, but the new structure will house about 70 slightly larger rooms with kitchenettes for extended stays.

“This will be welcomed news for our entire city. Besides construction jobs and permanent jobs, it is a further boost to economic development in our downtown business district. This also fills a building which has been vacant for many years,” Newell said. “This new project is a great addition to the continued revitalization of downtown Parkersburg. A vibrant business district is essential to the success of any community”

Steve Keiser, vice president and chief operations officer of Christy & Associates, said officials are speaking to several franchises and hope to have one selected within the next two months.

“That will really set our timeline,” he said. “Once that happens, we will get started on construction.”

Keiser said the Uptowner Inn was built in 1963 and closed in 1987. He said the main structure is in very good shape, and he predicts the company will invest at least $4 million in renovating the hotel.

Keiser also said the Uptowner Inn will be Parkersburg’s first extended-stay hotel.

Newell will ask Parkersburg City Council to approve a cooperation agreement between the city and Uptown Lodging for renovation of the Uptowner Inn. The agreement would offer $200,000 in development money for the project, grant a B&O Tax exemption on construction and for five years after the new business opened. It also would transfer ownership of a nearby city parcel of land to the Uptowner for $1 to be used for development of additional parking.

Uptown Lodging purchased property on the opposite corner from the Uptowner Inn to create additional parking. The plot of land in the cooperative agreement is adjacent to the purchased property.

Those agreements would be contingent upon the creation of at least 15 full-time equivalent jobs, which would have to exist for at least five years.

Officials said similar agreements have been extended to other businesses building within the city.

Newell has asked council president Jim Reed and finance committee chairman John Rockhold to hold a finance meeting to approve the incentive package from the city.

Newell credited an ordinance brought to and approved by council last year with sparking interesting in revitalizing vacant buildings. The ordinance allows for breaks on B&O taxes for renovations of vacant buildings.

Keiser said the break on B&O Tax, along with the creation of Corridor D, which has rerouted more traffic to downtown Parkersburg, has made the renovation project possible.

“It is just an opportunity that has opened up in the last couple of years,” he said.

Reed said he was thrilled with the news.

“I’m excited about the fact we’ve got an empty building we are going to be able to rehabilitate and renovate, and excited about the number of jobs being created,” he said. “I think it’s important we do things like (the B&O Tax break). We give up a little now to gain a lot down the road.”