The City of Hillsdale is nego­ti­ating a con­tract with a company looking to pur­chase the Keefer House, an aban­doned hotel in downtown Hillsdale.

Wolfram said the city hopes to rein­state the Keefer House as a hotel.

Director of Eco­nomic Devel­opment Mary Wolfram said the city is is working with the uniden­tified company to nego­tiate a price and a business pro­posal. Wolfram said the devel­opment agreement includes certain “bench­marks” the company is required to accom­plish within two years of the pur­chase.

She said the city hopes these require­ments will help restore the Keefer House — located on Howell Street — into a hotel once again.

Through the Tax Increment Financing Authority, or TIFA, the city bought the Keefer House in October 2016.

“TIFA pur­chased the prop­erties of the Keefer House and Dawn Theater in 2016 in the expec­tation of having them returned to their original scope and purpose, as a hotel and downtown enter­tainment venue,” said Robert Socha, TIFA board member.

Wolfram said the city hopes to rein­state the Keefer House as a hotel.

“The reason we bought it was to find a developer and develop it into a hotel, maybe apart­ments” she said. “We bought it because it had been sitting empty and there was no attempt to develop it for many, many years. It died an inglo­rious death.”

Wolfram said Hillsdale had to buy the property, because searching for devel­opers is only pos­sible for prop­erties the city owns. In its search for potential buyers, TIFA sub­mitted a Request for Pro­posal, or RFP, this past March. This is a doc­ument that asks potential buyers to send business pro­posals.

When nothing came of the RFP, TIFA sub­mitted a Request for Qual­i­fi­ca­tions, or RFQ, in Sep­tember. This deter­mines the eli­gi­bility and pos­sible success of potential buyers.

“We got two qual­ified state­ments back,” Wolfram said. “We are pur­suing the better of the two.” This entire process has taken a great deal of time, as it has been over a year since TIFA bought the Keefer House. Wolfram said these processes, however, are nec­essary.

“People crit­icize gov­ernment for how long every­thing takes, but there’s a reason for it,” she said. “The TIFA board only meets every other month. It’s a group of vol­un­teers from the business com­munity.”

The Keefer House itself was built in 1885 and func­tioned as a hotel until 1965, when it became a rooming house. It ulti­mately closed in the early 2000’s. According to Hillsdale’s His­toric Walking Tour, the building “has three store­fronts facing on Howell Street and extends along North Street all the way to the mid-block alley.”

The hotel boasts famous guests such as sharp­shooter Annie Oakley and scout William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. According to the His­toric Walking Tour, it has 54 guest rooms, as well as a dining room and two saloons. It was the site of many social events, including wed­dings and dances.

Wolfram said the Keefer House con­tributes to the his­toric worth of Hillsdale.

“Our entire downtown is on the national reg­ister of his­toric places,” Wolfram said. “That is because we have so many his­toric buildings in our his­toric dis­trict. The Keefer House is apart of that.”