Former Ramada bought by JAMF owner for $1.6 million - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Former Ramada bought by JAMF owner for $1.6 million

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Zach Halmstad, JAMF co-founder Zach Halmstad, JAMF co-founder

Eau Claire (WQOW) - One of downtown Eau Claire's most recognizable buildings is about to get a big makeover.

The doors may be locked at the former Ramada hotel, but the future, is wide open.  Wednesday, it was announced that a local developer bought the hotel.  Pablo Properties is the name of the developer and it's led by Zach Halmstad, the co-owner of JAMF software.

JAMF is currently building new office space downtown.  Before Halmstad bought the hotel it had been to auction three times.  It was sold to a lender at the most recent foreclosure auction for $1.45 million.  An online property search shows the hotel was sold to Halmstad on December 27th for $1.62 million

"It just didn't seem right to buy it at the auction after it had fallen through so many times," said Halmstad. "I have been thinking of buying it for a few months now and it finally came together."

Halmstad plans to renovate the entire building, including putting in a new restaurant, coffee shop, and modernizing the current convention center.

"I want to make this a place where people can come anytime, not just when they're staying at the hotel," said Halmstad. "We'll be working with Market and Johnson and an architect to hopefully update parts of the exterior of the building."

Eau Claire City Manager Russ Van Gompel calls it exciting news. He first learned of the plans when he met with Halmstad earlier this week.  "Having someone that is willing to invest in the downtown like Zach is very important," said Van Gompel. "Just having that local investment sends a strong message that Eau Claire is a place that people want to be. I see this as one step forward in making a downtown sense of place. I'm really looking forward to this property being successful and the Confluence Project. I think both go hand in hand. Creating that sense of place and creating a reason for people to want to visit downtown Eau Claire."

Much of the talk about downtown Eau Claire in the past year has been about the Confluence Project and the ups and downs of that development effort.  Halmstad says his investment in the hotel sends a strong message to the community that people are serious about downtown development.  "I think by doing this it shows that I, along with other people, are committed to downtown Eau Claire."

JAMF software has been a firm supporter of the Confluence, donating a half a million dollars to the project. 

A lead developer of the Confluence called Wednesday's news "a wonderful example of local business leaders supporting downtown redevelopment."  Dan Clumpner also said "the synergies between the hotel project and the Confluence are substantial and exciting."

A new name for the hotel has not been selected and it's unclear whether it will become part of a chain, but Halmstad says he hopes to have the hotel open by the end of this year.

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Eau Claire (Press Release) - Local developer Pablo Properties, the entity that is building the new JAMF Software building, has purchased the former Ramada Hotel in downtown Eau Claire. The 123-room hotel, which has been vacant since closing its doors on November 24, 2013, will be completely remodeled and reopened under the new ownership looking to help restore downtown Eau Claire.

The current building was built in the 1970's by Hilton and has seen several different owners in the past 40 years. Recently, the property fell into disrepair and was eventually closed after an auction put it back in the hands of the original bank.
 
Pablo Properties, led by local JAMF Software owner Zach Halmstad, says, "This property was the center of downtown when I was growing up. We went there for holiday meals and special events. We've seen it deteriorate over the last 10 years to the spot that businesses refuse to house their visitors there," and he hopes to change that.
 
Plans include reducing the number of rooms to between 80-90 to accommodate suites and long-term stay rooms, renovation of the existing convention center, and the addition of a coffee shop and new restaurant. "We have an incredible amount of shared space in the building, but it is not well maintained and is poorly utilized. We have plans to redesign the entire first floor and house a restaurant that focuses on great, locally sourced food. We hope that this space will be a benefit both for travelers and local citizens," Halmstad said.
 
With the renovations happening at the former Green Tree Inn, and a revitalized meeting space in the convention center at this new property the downtown may once more return to a viable option for meeting planners. "We keep track of groups that want to come to Eau Claire with a specific request for a downtown property. For the past few years we have been unable to accommodate them at a quality property," says Linda John, Executive Director of Visit Eau Claire, "this has translated to hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of lost potential business for Eau Claire. This announcement by Pablo Properties has huge economic impact potential for Eau Claire, while also serving the local community that has had to look elsewhere for reliable meeting space."
 
So far, a name for the new hotel has not been chosen. Pablo Properties is working with Empirical Hotel Investments as a hotel advisor. The groups are currently exploring franchise options, as well as the feasibility of opening as an independent hotel.
 
Market & Johnson has been selected as the general contractor and is working with Pablo on an aggressive timeline. The hotel will be reopened before the end of 2014.
 
Pablo Properties is led by Zach Halmstad, and is focused on improving Eau Claire's downtown area by building a new class A office space for JAMF Software, as well as the renovation of existing properties. Pablo Properties is one of five investors on the former Green Tree Inn. The two hotel properties will work together to create efficiencies and share services while still creating two distinct identities.
 
For more information, contact Pablo Properties at: info@pabloec.com
 
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