|By Thomas Garcia, Quay County Sun,
Tucumcari, N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jun. 30, 2009--Clayton city officials and residents are seeking to reopen the historic Eklund Hotel to help boost and stabilize the community's economic future.
"The Eklund is the most important building in the community," said Jack Chosvig, Mayor of Clayton. "It is a huge part of our community's history."
Doors to the Eklund closed in April, when the property was foreclosed by First National Bank of New Mexico said Craig Reeves, bank president.
The bank is headquartered in Clayton and has branches in Tucumcari and Logan.
"There is a nationwide economic downturn," said Kendyl Monroe, chairman of the Eklund Association Inc., which owned the hotel.
Monroe said reduced business was the primary reason behind the foreclosure.
Eklund Association Inc., had received a Business and Industry Guaranteed loan for $1.66 million from the USDA and the state's Historic Preservation Division for restoration of the building.
"The USDA and the HPD guaranteed 90 percent of that loan," Reeves said. "Ten percent of the loan was backed by the First National Bank of New Mexico."
The hotel, which dates to 1892, was started by Swedish immigrant Carl Eklund.
Foreclosure proceedings need to be completed before any interested parties can purchase and reopen the Eklund, Reeves said.
"The process could take five months, but it should be resolved sooner," Reeves said. "There have been parties that have expressed interest in purchasing the hotel. But at this point nothing is set in stone."
The Eklund's Board of Trustees met Monday night to talk with investors about the future of the business.
"Everyone has the common objective of reopening the Eklund as soon as possible," Monroe said. "What we are not clear on is how long it will take."
The Eklund played a large part in drawing in tourism and outside dollars to Clayton.
"I hated to see it close," said Brian Moore, former state lawmaker and a Clayton business owner. "The economy of Clayton has suffered since the Eklund closed."
The closure of the Eklund has had an effect and it's noticeable, Chosvig said.
"We have lost 50 percent of the traffic that would have normally stopped in Clayton since the Eklund's closure," Chosvig said. "It has been devastating for us."
When the Eklund was open, parking on Main Street was limited. But now there is not problem finding a parking space in downtown Clayton, Chosvig said.
"Business owners and residents have watched people drive up to the Eklund, see it is closed and the leave town," Chosvig said.
Additional businesses have closed on Main Street, but their closure is not directly linked to the Eklund, Chosvig said.
"Pedestrian traffic along the Main Street corridor has dropped dramatically," Chosvig said. "I believe if the Eklund reopened it could help to draw more tourists downtown and encourage businesses to move in."
For now the residents and city officials are playing it by ear. They are waiting for the foreclosure process to be completed, and a potential buyer to purchase and reopen Clayton's historical downtown landmark.
"The Eklund is too valuable a piece of of property to just let sit there," Chosvig said.
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Copyright (c) 2009, Quay County Sun, Tucumcari, N.M.
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