Endangered Partridge

Historic hotel hopefully can survive foreclosure threat

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If the venerable Partridge Inn's foreclosure troubles are a surprise, they shouldn't be.

RAINIER EHRHARDT/FILE
The historic Partridge Inn still is operational, but it’s looking at rough times. In this down economy, the century-old hotel is facing foreclosure.

Try sitting down at the bar and asking to see the owner. Be ready for a real bender; as of the middle of this week, no one has been able to track down a human being admitting to it. All one can find is a list of Atlanta attorneys.

Perhaps not surprisingly, neighbors say they haven't felt valued by the historic inn and restaurant. It's hard to imagine such a facility thriving without the support of locals.

One local we did talk to reported having a friend try to stay at the Partridge Inn, but failing to muster an entire night there.

A former employee told us she had been trained for "half a second" before being let loose on the customers, who were regularly nonplussed by conditions there. She said key employees employed themselves with horseplay, such as looking at girls on the Internet. Processes were so inexact, shall we say, that the employee was often called at home at odd hours to locate keys and such.

"I was surprised it stayed open that long," the former employee said.

A local hotelier estimated the Partridge Inn's $16 million bank note would require a gross monthly take of $400,000 -- a tall order in a sound economy, much less this one.

And, of course, there's that economy, in which even well-run, non-leveraged businesses are struggling.

The debt alone was a suffocating black cloud, one real estate expert noted.

"It was doomed from the start," the expert said.

The "start" was the purchase of the 1836 landmark by Atlanta investors in 2005. Originally built as a private residence with a view of the valley below, it's been a hotel since 1892.

Augustans felt their stomach sink when news of the foreclosure hit last week, though the hotel remains operational for now. It may have been a few years since many of us stopped in for a meal or drink, but this city feels understandably protective of the old girl. Few facilities here emanate the Old South the way the Partridge Inn and its veranda do.

There's no reason that a historic hotel with such character, ambience, sentimentality -- and so many built-in fans in the community -- can't succeed down the road. The Partridge has weathered 100 years of up and down economies, as well as the vagaries that come with being run by human beings.

Here's hoping it manages to ride out another storm.

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charliemanson
1
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charliemanson 07/22/11 - 04:15 am
0
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Partridge Inn ==> Bon-Air ==>

Partridge Inn ==> Bon-Air ==> future, section-8 housing complex.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 07/22/11 - 04:23 am
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Some out-of-town

Some out-of-town "entrepreneur" will get a deal on the building and try to use "guv-mint" money to "restore" it as subsidized housing. He will fail because of overwhelming opposition by Summerville residents, among other citizens. Then, after the delapidation process begins, a "civic-minded" local will get a better deal on the building and rescue it from demolition by "restoring" it. Would anyone care to nominate a listing of possible local saviors of the building? and the economic/tax advantages which would accrue to him/her/them?

Riverman1
79615
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Riverman1 07/22/11 - 05:14 am
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My solution is for Augusta

My solution is for Augusta State to buy it and have instant dorms near the main campus. It could change the city and the college for the good tremendously.

The Bon Air is much more historically and architecturally significant and it has gone to Section 8 housing. There is no hope for the Partridge Inn as a hotel in Augusta these days. If the economy ever picks up again there are plans to build another hotel on the Riverwalk. The Partridget Inn is doomed. Do something drastic now like encourage state owned Augusta State to purchase the venerable building.

I swear Rhett and Scarlett O'Hara sipped mint juleps on that very verandah when the yankees threatened Atlanta. Scarlett would swirl hers in the glass from Paris and look out at the beautiful flowers in the courtyard and fantasize about Ashley. I saw them right there.

augusta citizen
8657
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augusta citizen 07/22/11 - 08:54 am
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I hope something works out.

I hope something works out. The Partridge Inn is lovely but if new hotels are opened downtown, I don't see how it can make it.

Little Lamb
43941
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Little Lamb 07/22/11 - 09:48 am
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Yeah, and when Augusta State

Yeah, and when Augusta State University buys the Partridge Inn for dormitories, the city of Augusta could build a “light rail” trolley to ferry the students to and from campus. The trolley would run in a circuit — Walton Way & Johns Rd. down to Hickman St. Turn right at Partridge Inn and run to McDowell St. Turn right and run up to Johns Rd. Turn right and go back to Walton Way. Everyone would love it.

faithson
4817
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faithson 07/22/11 - 11:05 am
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Now there's an Idea worth a

Now there's an Idea worth a second look... Partridge and Bon Air as student housing with interconnecting transit to campus and downtown. Way to forward thinking for those 20th century thinkers running our local government. Of course you would have to balance an investment like this with some sort of 'equal' project in South Augusta a requirement that would kill the whole project anyway.

avidreader
3000
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avidreader 07/22/11 - 12:41 pm
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Get Clay Boardman involved.

Get Clay Boardman involved. He has the Midas Touch. Say what you want, but rich people are rich for a reason -- They're smart and intuitive.

Riverman1
79615
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Riverman1 07/22/11 - 01:40 pm
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LL, instead of the trolley

LL, instead of the trolley cars, I was thinking two giant slides facing in opposite directions from the Partridge to ASU. Slide on down to school and slide on back to the dorm. Let the Hill people plant flowers and have benches under it.

Riverman1
79615
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Riverman1 07/22/11 - 02:00 pm
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What do y'all think it will

What do y'all think it will go for at the auction?

ldsmith1
1
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ldsmith1 07/22/11 - 03:01 pm
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So sad to read this. Our

So sad to read this. Our rehearsal dinner was held at the PI with a wonderful view of our hometown from the roof! Personally, I don't think converting it to an ASU dorm is a good idea, but I'd love to see it become a hotel/conference center/continuing education type facility (akin to what the Georgia Center is at UGA). Don't know if the need exists for that, though.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 07/22/11 - 04:27 pm
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I have stayed at a Motel 6,

I have stayed at a Motel 6, Super 8 and Partidge Inn (a year ago for a wedding).

I would stay at a Motel 6 or a Super 8 again. You couldn't pay me to stay at Patridge Inn.

Our first room was a "special" price because it was a closet. Our next room was louder than my college dormitory. On top of that, the cop working a special at the hotel was doing donuts in his car outside our window.

You couldn't pay me to stay there.

Pu239
284
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Pu239 07/22/11 - 08:09 pm
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If we only had some pear
Unpublished

If we only had some pear trees.....

Willow Bailey
20579
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Willow Bailey 07/23/11 - 06:42 pm
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Though, I take no pride in

Though, I take no pride in seeing this beautiful piece of Augusta history going into foreclosure, I am glad to see this letter from the Chronicle. I marked the Partridge Inn off my list about 5 years ago regarding poor experiences in the restaurant.

This letter should serve as a wakeup call to other private business owners. I can't tell you how many times I have gone into a business and said to myself, well, you're done and off my list because of some poorly trained, negative, lazy, mouthy or missing employees.

Everyone knows what I am talking about. You ever go into a store and there is not one clerk in site to help you? It's like they have a camera trained on the parking lot and make a pre announcement, "Heads up, lady in a black trench coat approaching, looks like she wants to buy something, everybody scatter!"

Or you try asking a question and the answer is no, before you can complete your sentence. Or they are angry, and you just got there, so you know it‘s not something you did.

On the other hand, there are places of business that I patronize and am willing to pay higher prices for products and services because of well trained, available and respectful employees. In fact, I will drive out of town to shop at a business where I enjoy doing business.

When the economy is booming, you may get by with the slackers, when it is struggling, you better be the best in order just to survive.
I agree, the economy is down, but many people are making their own business much worse than it really has to be.

I will never understand why people invest millions in a business, thousands in marketing and advertising and put obstacle people in charge.

Little Lamb
43941
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Little Lamb 07/23/11 - 06:58 pm
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Willow Bailey wrote: I marked

Willow Bailey wrote:

I marked the Partridge Inn off my list about 5 years ago regarding poor experiences in the restaurant. . . . I can't tell you how many times I have gone into a business and said to myself, well, you're done and off my list because of some poorly trained, negative, lazy, mouthy or missing employees.

Wow, Willow Bailey, you are channeling me (or am I channeling you?)! The one that is off my list is Pizza Joint in Evans. They have a decent product and good ovens that can make a pizza crust. But the servers lollygag and gossip among themselves and go on excessive smoke breaks and serve your pizza cold and don't check back on your drink needs.

Willow Bailey
20579
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Willow Bailey 07/23/11 - 07:14 pm
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LL, patronized them once, and

LL, patronized them once, and I've never been back. You would think that people in business would check on their own business. Years ago, I had a job as a trouble shooter for a company out of Greenville and found their business problems were mostly linked to the attitude of the employees and management.

Riverman1
79615
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Riverman1 07/23/11 - 07:26 pm
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The auction is a week from

The auction is a week from Monday. I wonder who is going to bid and what they'll pay?

billyjones1949
1
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billyjones1949 07/23/11 - 08:31 pm
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Been there twice this month

Been there twice this month for lunch and it was good both times.

Willow Bailey
20579
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Willow Bailey 07/24/11 - 03:55 pm
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Lunch can't service the debt.

Lunch can't service the debt.

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