Putney Inn to be sold at auction
PUTNEY -- Randi Ziter is out of options.
After years of battling with a sluggish economy, increasing competition from national chains opening hotels in Brattleboro, rising fuel and food costs, and all of the other challenges that come with owning an independent inn and restaurant, Ziter has been forced to give up her fight to keep the Putney Inn.
People's United Bank is foreclosing on the 26 acre site and the Putney Inn and Restaurant will be sold to the highest bidder at a public auction on Thursday, Sept. 25.
The sale of the property will be held at noon, and by the end of the day it is likely that the inn and restaurant will be owned by someone else other than a member of the Ziter family for the first time in 38 years.
"It's bittersweet, but I tend to see the glass as half-full and I hope there will be a happy ending for the property," Ziter said Tuesday. "What has been sustaining for me is all of the relationships and friendships I have made all these years. It has not all been for naught.
The inn has been closed for about a year and Ziter said when she shut it down that she was unable to keep up with her financial responsibilities.
In October Ziter announced that Greenwich Hospitality Group was interested in purchasing and developing the property, and she said she worked with representatives from the real estate development firm throughout the winter.
Ziter said she thought the deal was going to go through until April, when she said she received a surprise call informing her that the investment firm was not going to follow through on the purchase of the Putney Inn.
Over the past few months, she said, she has received a number of calls from investors who were interested in building an agricultural education center, a brewery and a business incubator, but no one stepped up with the cash.
Ziter said she has been receiving support and good wishes since announcing that the Greenwich Hospitality deal had fallen through.
Because Ziter thought Greenwich Hospitality was going to purchase the property, renovations were under way in some of the rooms, and she said the bank has assessed the property at about a third of what it was valued at when it was a working inn and restaurant.
The property includes two buildings on 26.18 acres, and the sale includes all restaurant and hotel equipment and furniture on site.
She claims the Putney Inn was valued at about $1.2 million at one time, though the most recent bank assessment puts the value at almost $400,000.
The town of Putney values the property and buildings at $1.03 million and $12,485 in back taxes are owed, not including the taxes that were supposed to be paid on Aug. 22.
Ziter also owed $21,179 in outstanding sewer bills and the private water system will have to be upgraded and then inspected by the state before it is put into operation.
The motel and restaurant also failed a fire inspection on April 30, 2014, and the buildings would require improvements to the alarm and fire suppression system.
Ziter said she owes about $600,000 on the property, and so she is not likely to get complete relief from the mortgage after the sale
Tranzon Auction Properties will give a tour of the facility to interested buyers on Sept. 11 and 16 from 11 a.m. to noon.
Ziter realizes there is little else she can do to steer the future of the Putney Inn.
"It's such a prominent piece of real estate and I am concerned about how it is going to be developed," she said. "I hope somebody comes along and does something that benefits the community."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 279. Follow him on Twitter @HowardReformer.
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