|By Peter Healy, The Stamford Advocate,
Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 15, 2008 --STAMFORD -- A city developer's plan to turn the Stamford YMCA's former hotel into a 99-unit Comfort Inn & Suites by late spring has rescued the financially strapped organization.
RMS Construction on Wednesday paid the YMCA $4.65 million for the eight-story hotel portion of its building, RMS President Randy Salvatore said Friday.
The sale will help pay debt and finance renovations to the adjoining two-story, 50,000-square-foot fitness center, swimming pool and community activity facility that the YMCA retained, said Mark Ketley, its chief executive officer.
"This is our 141st year in Stamford, and we are excited that we will be in the community for years to come," Ketley said. "We are really excited we were able to get this deal done, especially in this economy."
The YMCA closed its fitness club, swimming pool and 132-room hotel Oct. 31, 2007, because declining membership caused a $200,000 annual deficit. It also could not afford $5 million to $7 million to repair its 34-year-old building at 909 Washington Blvd.
Ketley said the YMCA's after-school day care programs for children will continue during renovations, which are expected to be finished late next year. He said the fitness center will reopen for members and Comfort Inn guests in about 10 to 11 months.
The YMCA is working on architectural plans and has not yet chosen a company to perform the renovations. The hotel and YMCA will have separate entrances, Salvatore said.<>RMS had been working on the deal with city land-use boards for several months. >
"It's a win-win situation for the Y and the developer and brings another hotel price option into the downtown," said John Ruotolo, vice president of operations for Stamford's Downtown Special Services District. "Our mission is always to ensure that the downtown is as vibrant as possible, and both of those uses will help accomplish that."
Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy said Salvatore is "a proven buyer. He provides a good product, and I am looking forward to it coming to fruition."
"The Y will use the proceeds from the sale to put themselves on a strong footing. It is a premier location and gives them a chance to get back on their feet."
The city's Board of Representatives had rejected Malloy's proposal to relocate the YMCA to the Edward Hunt Recreation Complex at Courtland Avenue and East Main Street.
Keeping its original location will subsidize operating costs. Salvatore said the hotel will pay the YMCA a fee for overnight guests to use the fitness center and pool.
The hotel will have a lobby, conference room and breakfast area, he said, but no full-service restaurant because many are nearby.
Salvatore said interior demolition began Wednesday on the hotel, which he expects will open in May or June.
Other downtown hotels are the Holiday Inn, Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa and Courtyard by Marriott. Hampton Inn & Suites, the Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center and the Amsterdam Hotel are at the downtown's edges.
In addition, F.D. Rich Co. of Stamford has proposed a 15-story development called the Atlantic Hotel and Residences between Summer and Atlantic streets in the heart of the downtown.
Most lower Fairfield County hotels are filled in the middle of the week but have high vacancies on weekends, said Susan Henrique, director of sales and marketing for the Norwalk-based Fairfield County Convention & Visitor Bureau.
"In this slow economy, even the midweek bookings are down," she said. "The projections say the industry is expected to recover in 2010."
In the hotel sale, commercial real estate brokers Al Mirin, Silvia Pogosyan and Susanne Dengenis of the CB Richard Ellis Westchester/Fairfield Private Client Group arranged the separation of the YMCA into two condominiums, one of which RMS Construction and a partner acquired and the other that the YMCA kept.
- Staff Writer Peter Healy can be reached at email@example.com or 964-2276.
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