Building could bring more business to Barstow Street


Story by Steve Fruehauf, News Editor

A price of $1.3 million started the auction bidding. Counter offers from representatives of SBM Holdings and ECHC Properties ensued in turn. A back and forth war began between the two companies.

But it was Wayne Miller, of SBM, who ultimately came out on top with a winning bid of $1.655 million. He could not be reached for comment.

This is the second time the Eau Claire building formerly known as the Ramada Inn, located on 205 South Barstow Street, has been up for sale since July.

After it’s first foreclosure, the hotel was set to be auctioned off through the Eau Claire Sheriff’s Department. In the first auction the former owners, Singh Brothers Hotel Management, placed the largest bid at that time of $1.41 million, thus, keeping the building in their possession.

But they were unable to come up with the rest of the money on time, so the sheriff’s department put the building up for yet another foreclosure sale on Sept. 17.

This is where Miller placed his offer, giving his Minneapolis company ownership of the downtown space. Eau Claire Economic Development Administer Mike Schatz said he’s glad to see the building finally get some attention.

“It’s the only major downtown hotel so for people who want to stay in the East Central business district, it’s their only option,” Schatz said. “It has an attached conference and convention center so we would like to see that utilized to its fullest.”

Problems began back in April 2012 after Dougherty Funding filed for foreclosure on the Singh Brothers due to a failure of loan payments. When no money was received after the foreclosure notice, the company then sued the former owners of the hotel as well.

A local judge concluded the Singh Brothers owed Dougherty approximately $1.66 million in loan repayment.

Since then, they have lost control of everyday business in the building and a court-appointed company, S&L Hospitality, took over until the space was bought.

Downtown restaurant Rice Palace employee, Mary Xiong, said she thinks it’s great the building was purchased. She said the additional tourists will allow for more sales around the Barstow Street area.

“Somebody can buy it, they will remodel and be able to have more customers,” Xiong said. “If we got more customers to the hotel, then all of the businesses in downtown would get a lot better.”

Schatz said he’s excited about the future of the downtown area as well. He said people staying at the hotel would have a great opportunity to explore the business district in the area.

“We would like to see people staying downtown,” he said. “As many times a person stays in a hotel, they have some free time that they can shop and visit the retail stores, restaurants and such, so for downtown it’s the one way we can get additional tourism.”