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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.”

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    No Mary, people don’t criticize goverment for how long things take, people criticize goverment for interjecting itself in everything. Decades ago the free market determined the Keefer house outlived its economic usefulness. Yet grant after grant after grant, all taxpayer money, has gone into that rathole.

    Of all places, Hillsdale, it’s sad to see such socialism practiced. Your city doesn’t’ even have a proper firetruck and lets not even talk about the roads, yet we see all this candy store spending.

    • AlexanderYpsilantis

      It would probably cost more to demolish it than to put it to good use again. Consider the possiblities.

      • Ellsworth_Toohey

        4+ million to tear it down? Can you source that?

        • Ellsworth_Toohey

          And BTW I don’t see where I suggested tearing it down. Stabalizin the roof, which had been done, would keep it in place until the local economy recovered.

          • AlexanderYpsilantis

            It’s a hazard as is, it’ll need to be demolished or renovated. It’s just a matter of when. And if some private company is interested in purchasing and renovating it-assuming they have a legitimate line of credit to do that-what’s the concern? History shows us that if left unattended structures like this end up catching fire with the threat to fire fighters and neighboring strucures. Seems like they’re taking the bull by the horns.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            So you can’t source those numbers you are tossing about?

            Yes it was a hazard. And it was owned by the private sector. As such, it was his responsibility. And their are ordinances on the books, including condemnation, that can force owners to take care of their properties. That’s taking the bull by the horns, enforcing the laws, not cronyism.

            Yet you Alex advocate the goverment acquire these assets and put it on the taxpayers back. You do realize this is one of the definitions of socialism?

          • AlexanderYpsilantis

            I’m not ‘tossing around’ any numbers, you’re the one who referenced $ 4 Million. Do you have any material to back that figure up or are you just filling in the blank spaces in your arguments as you go along? As for my comments, you agree with me that the vacant structure is ‘a hazard’ yet you propose nothing workable to address the situation. ‘Condemnation’ can take years of litigation and in the meantime the hazard continues to exist. If someone is interested in the property as the article suggests, it makes sense to investigate that option. At least, among thinking people. Finally, the City already owns this property and has for several years. Whether it was a good idea or not to purchase it in the first place is an argument in futility, which you are trying to turn into a polemic argument. Since you seem confused on the facts behind this story, I’ll let you read the article before your next comment.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Of course you are. You stated:

            —“It would probably cost more to demolish it than to put it to good use again. ”

            How much would it cost to demolish?

            As to the $4 million, all you ended up doing is exposing the fact you aren’t from the area. That number was taken from the feasibility report on the hotel, page 40

            http://www.cityofhillsdale.org/media/50458/final%20feasbility%20study-hillsdale%20keefer%20hotel%20(2).pdf

            And last, the city has not owned the property for “several years:. they purchased it just a year ago in October 2016

            http://hillsdalecollegian.com/2016/10/tifa-purchases-dawn-theater-may-convert-community-center/

            Are you even from the area?

          • AlexanderYpsilantis

            The City owns the property, whether it be for ‘several years’ as I noted or shorter period of time. As such, it’s pointless to argue that item, an argument in polemics as I noted. ‘Feasibility Reports’ are fine, but I’ve NEVER known one to live up actual tenders-they are usually conservative and vasly exagerated. A good contractor could knock that place down and rebuild it for under $ 4 Million, easily. You exposed your inexperience in building/renovation. Stick to pillorying the perpetrators of the Hillsdale goat, your arguments on this topic are baaaaaaaaaaad.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Yet I actually can cite sources for my claims, unlike yourself.

            We’ve already established you are neither a student of Hillsdale college or a resident of Hillsdale. Now I’m wondering if you’ve even graduated from college.

          • AlexanderYpsilantis

            Indeed I have, 3 times in fact as I have my PhD in Electrical Engineering. Are you an SNHU graduate? All the signs seem to point in that direction. You wrote ‘We’ve already established (that) you are neither a student of Hillsdale (n)or a resident of Hillsdale’. You haven’t ‘established’ anything of the kind, you assumed it-and you know what they say about assumptions? By the way, who do you mean by ‘We’? You and your cellmate, or you and those voices you hear occasionally? Just keep on posting misinformed comments or statements of the distressingly obvious-at that you have no betters.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            Last I checked, Hillsdale College didn’t award EE degrees.

            As to you not being a resident, are you? If you are, you seem to be massively uninformed as to what is occurring in your own town.

          • AlexanderYpsilantis

            Hillsdale College offers a Pre-Engineering curriculum currently that requires finishing off your course of study at an ABET Accredited Engineering School. They really should consider offering an Accredited Engineering Program, as even Harvard has seen the light on that and now has an Engineering School. But that’s a discussion for another time.

          • Ellsworth_Toohey

            SMH

          • AlexanderYpsilantis

            Is that what that rattling was? I thought I threw a bearing.

  • DefCon99

    Did the reporter even leave the college and see the Keefer?

    • Ellsworth_Toohey

      It looks like this year’s batch mostly use rumors on facebook to source their stories.

  • Penny Swan

    Another reason things were talking so long is the seller made contingencies that only a certain type of business could go in there for a year. The seller made all sorts of contingencies that went along with the sale, I have no idea why TIFA went along with those. Literally every meeting I go to I find out more.

    • Ellsworth_Toohey

      You have no idea? Oh I think you do. A certain TIFA member, who voted No, told me it was a certain failed real estate investor who was the big push behind having the taxpayers acquire this white elephant.

      • Penny Swan

        Ok I definitely do have a idea 🙄