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Hagerstown Hotel & Convention Center on Dual Highway to close

August 09, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com
  • The Hagerstown Hotel & Convention Center on Dual Highway is scheduled to close this month.
Herald-Mail file photo

The Hagerstown Hotel & Convention Center on Dual Highway is scheduled to close this month, a tourism official said.

DFIN LLC is buying the property, according to Bill Barnes, a partner in the limited liability company. The sale is expected to become final in about three weeks. He declined to give the sale price.

DFIN hasn’t decided what to do with the property, Barnes said.

He said the property’s current owner, VFC Partners 8 LLC, and its management company made the decision to close the hotel, not DFIN.

Thomas B. Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Wednesday that he was told the hotel is scheduled to close Aug. 18.

Riford said his organization heard about the closing a few days ago and is trying to find new conference and lodging accommodations for dozens of groups that were booked at the hotel within the next few years.

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Stacey Schuhardt, the hotel’s general manager, said she could not comment.

The hotel was sold through a foreclosure auction last year. The former owners, Watchwood LLC and Bahman Inc., defaulted under the terms of a 2006 financing agreement, The Herald-Mail reported at the time.

VFC Partners 8 LLC purchased the property for $2 million in a foreclosure auction in April 2011 and took possession two months later.

The hotel, at 1910 Dual Highway just east of Hagerstown, has a long history.

Businessman Nick Giannaris purchased the hotel, then a Sheraton, for $1.8 million in 1980, The Herald-Mail reported at the time.

For years, it was the home of Christmas With Nick, a free Christmas meal Giannaris shared with more than 1,000 people. The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the county’s Republican and Democratic central committees regularly held events there.

But in recent years, it struggled with “some built-in challenges,” Riford said.

The hotel doesn’t have an indoor swimming pool and, without an elevator, it doesn’t meet Americans With Disabilities Act standards, preventing it from getting federal government contracts, he said.

The hotel ended its ties to the Sheraton chain in 2008. A general manager at the time described the split as a way to save money on the cost of affiliation.

The property was scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction in August 2009, but the owners filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, The Herald-Mail reported last year.

Barnes said DFIN LLC is one of several businesses he and Paul Ritchie own together.

The hotel property was for sale for more than a year and DFIN agreed last month to buy it, Barnes said.

He said the building needs work, including a roof that could cost about $500,000 to fix.

Under the current zoning, the property has many possibilities. Barnes said it might make a good site for a fast-food restaurant or a convenience store. It could take a year to figure out what will happen next.

In the mean time, “we are not going to let it become an eyesore,” Barnes said.

Riford estimated that “a couple dozen” groups with bookings at the hotel in the next few years are now trying to find other accommodations. The CVB is helping them.

The hotel is one of four in Washington County with an in-house restaurant, meeting space and rooms, Riford said.

It also is one of a small number of local places that could host a banquet for several hundred people, he said.

Editor's note: This story was edited to correct when Nick Giannaris purchased the hotel.

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