|By Hannah Poturalski, The Columbus
Dispatch, OhioMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
July 20, 2010--The troubled Fort Rapids Indoor Waterpark Resort has been sold to two buyers, including former Cleveland Browns running back Jamal Lewis.
The East Side complex has been run by American Resort Management in receivership since the hotel and water park went into foreclosure in 2008.
Ownership of Fort Rapids also will include Brownlee Reagan, owner of Reagan Resort Properties in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The deal was worth $6 million.
Christina Bland, marketing director at Fort Rapids, said four potential buyers had expressed interest in the past 10 months, but nothing came to fruition.
"We're breathing a sigh of relief now," Bland said.
Platinum Lodging LLC bought the hotel, formerly a Holiday Inn, in 2004 for $6.6 million before adding the water park and villa suites for an additional $39 million.
However, the complex failed to meet financial expectations, and Platinum confirmed in early 2008 that it had begun seeking a buyer.
The new owners, formally known as J Lew Financial LLC, have one component with experience running properties, and another, Lewis, better known for running a football.
"Jamal was looking to invest in projects that make sense," said Lance Lehr, president of Hybrid Hospitality, Fort Rapids' management company.
Many changes are already on the docket for Fort Rapids. Bland said plans call for increasing guest activities, renovating the 337 rooms (including new bedding) and adding attractions such as a zip line to the water park.
"The resort brings in tourist revenue for Columbus. It's an asset to the community," Lehr said.
Bland said the resort, which grosses around $8â€‰million a year, has a goal to increase revenue to $10â€‰million to $12â€‰million a year.
"When it first opened, it made that much, so it's an obtainable goal," she said.
The sale has boosted employee morale at the water park, Bland said. "It's a new opportunity to have Fort Rapids live up to its potential."
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