Doubt clouds Partridge Inn's future

Business owners speculate about site's potential

When the Partridge Inn loans are auctioned off on the steps of the Richmond County courthouse, someone will walk away with the notes for one of Augusta's oldest landmarks.

 

Who that someone will be is anyone's guess, according to several local business investors.

Paul King is the broker-in-charge at Rex Property & Land, LLC and has been involved in the development of downtown projects such as the Whites Building and the Emporium.

He says it's hard to say what will become of the Partridge Inn, but that the building has considerable potential for the right person.

"It's a tremendous resource for someone, a smart owner who capitalizes on its location and works on building its relationship with the people in its neighborhood," he said. "In the right hands, it can be a success."

In the past, the Partridge Inn hasn't had a local "face," King said, and that could be why it is now facing foreclosure.

"Local people know you're going to see them, so they seem to care a lot more," he said. "I know my wife and I just want to see the ship righted, so to speak."

A local owner might be good, but local hotelier Jugal Purohit said he doesn't think anyone in Augusta is going to take the project on.

"I don't think anyone can make a dime off of it," he said. "The way this economy is going, everyone is in trouble."

Purohit said he wasn't surprised the $16 million note wound up in foreclosure -- to pay the yearly debt, he said, it would take the hotel making at least $400,000 each month.

"Could that hotel generate $400,000 per month? It's too much," he said. "The potential is there, it's just that banks are so tight right now. We all want to keep our heads."

Clay Boardman, local real estate investor behind the revitalization of Enterprise Mill and other projects, said it's really impossible to say what will happen to the property because so little is known as of now.

"I'm certainly interested in it from a historical perspective," said Boardman, whose family has lived in Augusta for generations. "I plan to follow the progress and get more information."

It won't be until the actual auction, however, that anyone will be able to say what will happen to the century-old building, Boardman said.

"Nothing will occur until August," he said.

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