PARKERSBURG - Mayor Bob Newell says he believes plans to renovate and reopen the Uptowner Inn as long-term rental housing are still on track, and construction should begin at the end of this summer.
Officials announced in March building owner Larry Morehead and Frank Christy of Christy & Associates would renovate the building, which had stood vacant for nearly 25 years, into an extended-stay hotel.
An agreement between the city and Uptowner Lodging was approved in April by city council. The deal provided $200,000 in development money for the project and granted a B&O Tax exemption on construction and for five years after the new business opens.
The city also agreed to transfer ownership of the small plot of land to the Uptowner for $1.
On Tuesday, City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance transferring ownership of the piece of land near the Uptowner to the Urban Renewal Authority.
"It's kind of a technicality," Newell said. "The city can't sell or buy property, it all has to run through Urban Renewal."
Newell told council Tuesday he believed the project was still on track. Newell said he had spoken with those involved and was told construction would begin at the end of this summer.
Steve Kieser of Christy & Associates, the local contact for the project, did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment.
Newell said the end of summer timeline has not changed since the announcement back in March.
"When they first announced this their schedule was for the end of summer," Newell said. The group has invested in neighboring properties and has been actively seeking a hotel chain to brand and manage the Uptowner, he said.
"There is not much they can do to the building until they are settled on a chain, because that will determine the look and colors of the building," Newell said. "But make no mistake, it is on its way."
A second and final vote on the property transfer will take place in about three weeks at the council's next regularly scheduled meeting.