05-01-13-pub-notes.gifAnother Chance for the

Prince Charles

The Hotel Prince Charles was given a reprieve by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court last week. The last minute deal to keep the hotel from falling into bankruptcy limbo was brokered between the current owner John Chen and David Levinson, the developer of the Anderson Creek Club.

In a strategic move, Chen signed over the title to Anderson’s holding company, King David LLC. The move, approved by the courts, gives Anderson the opportunity to conduct a six-month feasibility study to determine whether or not it is possible to renovate the hotel in a manner that will make it a cost-effective project.

Levinson hopes to turn the hotel into a mix-use project, with two-room condominiums (of about 450 square feet and with a price tag of less than $100,000) and offi ce space. Additionally, he wants to open a gym, a restaurant and a bar in the historic building. He estimates the price tag at about $6 million.

Additionally, the city will waive its judgment against Chen to get the project moving forward.

For many in the city this plan is good news. The 88-year-old building lends a lot of character to downtown. In its early days, it was the crown jewel to the city center. Over the years, the building has changed hands a number of times, and each time that has happened, city residents have applauded efforts to keep the grand building in use.

Over the past several months, seeing the building slowly crumble has been heartbreaking for many, while many others have taken up the chant of tear it down. Those who would prefer to see the hotel torn down argue that the real estate value of the land and the possibilities that it offers are far greater than any historic value the building brings to the city.

I can see both sides of the picture. In my hometown in Troy, the Hotel Troy was a classic edifice. The brick work is beautiful and historic. During its hey day, the interior was spectacular. But year after year, the building sat empty, and tiny pieces of its grandeur fell victim to looters and later to the elements.

At one point, the only option seemed to be to tear it down. But the people in that small town came together and found another answer. Today, that hotel houses a restaurant, an art gallery and a couple of shops. There is a lot more to do, but the money simply isn’t there.

The Prince Charles is in much better shape than the Hotel Troy was. The elements have not had their way with it, so that’s one thing in its favor. If Mr. Levinson can pull it off, the $6 million investment will breathe more life into the city center by bringing young residents downtown. It will breathe life into the downtown economy by bringing offices and entertainment to the city center.

It is our hope, that Levinson can indeed put his money where his heart seems to be and save this historic building. If not, this may be the last song for the Prince Charles.

Photo: The Prince Charles hotel gets another chance as investors ponder possible ways to reinvent the space.

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