Provo firm, bullish, acquires Star Hotel, other Main Street properties |

Provo firm, bullish, acquires Star Hotel, other Main Street properties

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Todd Cusick, the manager of a firm that has acquired three Main Street properties, shows a historic photo of the Star Hotel on his smartphone during a Wednesday visit to the building, sitting across Main Street. His firm also acquired the Imperial Hotel, on the left. Jay Hamburger/Park Record

A Provo-based firm since mid-2013 has acquired three properties along Main Street, including two high-profile historic ones, in what is more evidence of a strong rebound from the recession along the street.

The firm is called Westlake Land, LLC. It has purchased two buildings — the Imperial Hotel and the Star Hotel — and a vacant piece of land next to the Imperial Hotel at 205 Main St. The Imperial Hotel was redeveloped into a house prior to the purchase, but the building remains widely known by the Imperial Hotel moniker.

The acquisitions continue a shake-up in ownership along Main Street since the recession struck. There was a series of transactions during the downturn that reshaped ownership the street as some sold or lost their properties instead of redeveloping them.

Two of the properties acquired by Westlake Land, LLC had changed hands during the downturn. Westlake Land, LLC purchased the Imperial Hotel and the parcel at 205 Main St. from firms controlled by Ken Abdalla, one of the heavy investors on Main Street in recent years. The Star Hotel was acquired from a business entity managed by a family member of the late longtime owner. Details about the deals, including the prices, were not released.

"I think one word is the uniqueness of it, really," Todd Cusick, the manager of Westlake Land, LLC, said about Main Street. "There’s not a lot of space available on Main Street . . . Obviously, it’s a commodity in short supply."

The purchase of the Star Hotel is especially notable given its status as a historic building that has not undergone a major renovation recently. Cusick said he intends to seek an approval to turn the upstairs floors into condominiums, perhaps three of them, and keep restaurant or retail square footage on the street level. The property will not operate as a hotel afterward, he said, noting that it has not been a hotel in nearly a year. Uptown Fare, a restaurant, remains open in the Star Hotel.

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Cusick said the Star Hotel has been found to have "structural integrity issues" that are under investigation. He said it appears there is little or nothing left from the original 19th century building. He said the Star Hotel visible nowadays is not historically significant based on a series of alterations between the late 1960s and the early 1980s, including the removal of architectural features that dated to at least the 1920s. The renovation of the Star Hotel, he said, will attempt to re-create a look similar to the one from the 1920s.

"We have a goal of restoring it to what it was during the truly historic period," he said, adding, "What we have today is not historically significant."

The firm does not have a timeline for the work at the Star Hotel.

Cusick said Westlake Land, LLC plans to make minor changes to the Imperial Hotel building and then put it back on the market as a house. He said the firm will move forward with previously approved plans for a residential building at 205 Main St. The construction is scheduled to start by early July, he said.

Main Street suffered through a period of vacant buildings and delayed construction projects during the worst of the recession, but it has enjoyed an extraordinary amount of private sector investment recently. Some of the property transactions along Main Street have been followed by major renovations, including the building once known as the Main Street Mall and the Silver Queen Hotel.