Partners withdraw offer to purchase City Center Hotel - November 4 2011

Proposed $8.5 million renovation with city support for key riverfront property

OSHKOSH, Wis. -- The partners involved in the purchase of City Center Hotel in downtown Oshkosh have withdrawn their offer to buy the property from Nashco Hospitality Group, LLC.

In the midst of the 90-day due diligence period associated with the sale of the hotel, the partners said concerns over unanticipated renovation costs have made their plans unviable.

Oshkosh Investors LLC, comprised of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Foundation and hotelier WHG LLC, together made the hotel purchase offer and envisioned its $8.5 million renovation into the Athearn Waterfront Hotel -- UW Oshkosh, a modernized, full-service convention and business hotel in the heart of downtown Oshkosh on the Fox River, two blocks away from the UW Oshkosh campus.

The Oshkosh Area Community Foundation served as a facilitator in discussions about revitalizing the hotel to its full potential. The Community Foundation was not an investor in the hotel agreement. It funded a $1 million loan three years ago to renovate the Convention Center, which is attached to the hotel.

The city of Oshkosh has been in the process of considering tax-incremental financing (TIF) assistance to support the hotel project, with renovation to begin by the end of 2011. The partners said they will not proceed with their city TIF request.

"We were very confident in the community partnership that formed and that partnership's vision for a full-scale, first-rate business hotel with re-energized conference appeal in downtown Oshkosh," said Eileen Connolly-Keesler, president and CEO of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

"Unfortunately, in doing its due diligence, the partnership uncovered a number of unforeseen costs necessary to bring this hotel up to operational standards. We could not arrive at a mutually-agreeable purchase price, so we had to withdraw our offer."

"Our partnership not only sought to re-energize the hotel property and the conference center for the benefit of Oshkosh (Wisconsin's Event City) it also served as a catalyst in attracting new academic and educational conference business to the city via UW Oshkosh, the leader in conferencing among the UW System's four-year institutions," said UW Oshkosh Foundation President Arthur H. Rathjen.

The partners also proposed channeling tens of thousands of dollars in annual hotel revenues into UW Oshkosh Foundation scholarships for Oshkosh high school graduates and using the property to house a new, innovative and collaborative University hospitality academic program.

Rathjen said the partners express their deep appreciation to city of Oshkosh administration, the Oshkosh Plan Commission, the Oshkosh Common Council, private investors and numerous community members who passionately supported the project since its September unveiling.

"While we are disappointed we could not reach an acceptable purchase price and are not able to proceed, we are nevertheless grateful to the wide array of community supporters whose hope and enthusiasm validated our proposal's value to the city and residents of Oshkosh."


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