Putney Inn deal collapses


PUTNEY -- A pending deal by a Connecticut real estate developer to purchase The Putney Inn has fallen through, and the owner of the inn said the property is back on the market.

Randi Ziter, whose family has owned the Putney Inn for 38 years, said she received a surprise phone call from Greenwich Hospitality Group in early May informing her that the investment firm was not going to go through with the planned purchase of the historic inn.

"The sale, for all intent purposes, is done," Ziter said Tuesday with disappointment in her voice. "The sale is off, and I am trying to make the best of a very tough situation."

Ziter announced in October that Greenwich Hospitality Group, a real estate development firm that owns hotels and inns around Connecticut, was going to purchase the Putney Inn and develop a high end resort and spa.

According to Ziter, Greenwich Hospitality staff met with her throughout the winter.

She said interior designers went through the property, and she said just a few weeks ago she sat down with them to do a beer tasting for a proposed plan to include a microbrewery on site.

"It was startling," Ziter said about receiving the call from Greenwich Hospitality Group. "To go from a beer tasting to that dramatic call was very hard. I am in a state of shock."

E-mails and phone calls to Greenwich Hospitality Group were not returned.

The Putney Inn is located on a historic parcel of land that was deeded from King George III to English Army Capt. John Kathan in 1752. It remained a working farm until the early 1900s, when the Catholic missionary order, The Society of Saint Edmund's, purchased the land and buildings. In the early 1960s, after Interstate 91 cut the property in half, it was reopened as an Inn, and the Ziter family purchased it in 1975. Randi Ziter took over management of the inn three years later.

Ziter said while she enjoyed many, many years of strong business, the last few years have been difficult.

A slumping economy and the addition of hundreds of new hotel rooms along Putney Road in the last few years put a crimp in The Putney Inn's yearly business.

Leading up to the proposed sale Ziter was thinking about getting out of the hospitality industry. She said it would be much too challenging to hire staff and get the property ready for another season, though she said it is hard to just sit by knowing there are tourists traveling up and down I-91 looking for a good room and meal.

On Tuesday, she said, while she was on site, someone stopped by looking for a room. Ziter said he had a tear in his eyes as she explained that she was closed, and the property would most likely never open again as The Putney Inn.

She said the property is for sale, and she is hoping to sell it as soon as possible to settle her mounting debts.

"The travesty is that I literally had to cancel hundreds of dollars of business as I saw the construction delayed month after month, but in the long run I don't know if it would have made any difference," Ziter said. "I have had such an outpouring of support from friends and patrons. At least that has been a real joy as all of this has come down on me. We've been open 365 days a year. We've seen families come in with their kids in high chairs and those same kids have come back with their children. We've shared holidays and marriages and parties, but all of that is done. It's come to an end."

For more information on the Putney Inn call Ziter at 802-387-2005.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer .com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.


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