Ramada owners say Xenia is making wrong move, but city moves toward hotel closure

Hotel group says plan is against public’s interest; city cites Ramada problems, points to redevelopment

XENIA — The city of Xenia plans to take possession of the local Ramada Inn this November, but hotel owners are arguing the move is bad for Xenia taxpayers and the community as a whole.

The city last week cited the hotel’s failure to renew their lease, years of delinquent lease payments, a history of fire code violations and property maintenance issues in terminating the lease, issues that hotel owners say are “not unusual,” according to a statement. Lawyers for AK Group Hotels said the city taking possession of the hotel is “negligent at best, and punitive.”

“The action they’re taking is certainly against not only the public’s, but the taxpayers’ best interest, because this burden will fall at the feet of the taxpayer and serves no real purpose,” said AK Group attorney Michael Hrabcak.

The city of Xenia has owned the land that the Ramada and the adjacent Xenia Towne Square sit on since the historic 1974 tornado, and has had long-term land lease agreements with developers that built there. According to Xenia Municipal Court documents, the lease for the site was not properly renewed in 2017, and the Ramada Inn has since been operating under a month-to-month lease.

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AK Group Hotels, Inc., the owner and operator of the Ramada Inn, said in a statement that the group failed to renew its lease in 2017 due to a clerical error.

According to the lease termination notice served on Dec. 13 last year, the Ramada had defaulted on $17,333 worth of rent payments dating back to 2019. The deadline for those outstanding payments was Jan. 31, 2022, which the city extended until July 1, the date on which the lease was to be terminated. An eviction notice was served on July 29, and the new date for the owners to vacate the property is Oct. 31, according to court documents.

The city has sole discretion to terminate the lease, City Manager Brent Merriman said Tuesday, adding that the city regularly takes calls from guests of the Ramada Inn complaining about poor conditions and services.

“The factors have resulted in adverse impacts to our community’s reputation regionally,” Merriman said. “Council’s decision was not predicated solely on any specific maintenance issues and the Council did not have to justify its decision based on such.”

Per a settlement agreement filed in Xenia Municipal Court on Sept. 8, the Ramada Inn will be allowed to occupy the site and maintain operations until Oct. 31 in order to liquidate the business. The Ramada is also responsible for paying its $833.33 in monthly rent through October, as well as utilities and hotel tax, per the agreement.

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Ramada owners plan to comply with the agreement, attorneys said, but have reached out to the city to find an equitable solution to keep the business open. Those requests have not been returned, Hrabcak said.

“(The Ramada’s) commitment to the community remained constant, providing the benefit of tax revenue, employment, and accommodations for area colleges, as well as visitors to the Xenia community,” owners said. “The City of Xenia will be responsible for the maintenance, care, upkeep, and utilities for the building and property, as well as the ultimate, substantial cost of demolition of the Ramada Inn — all at taxpayer expense.”

The city said Tuesday that claims of substantial taxpayer cost are meritless, adding that any tax contributions made by the Ramada are have been offset by growing police and fire/EMS service demands from the business.

“While the city will have some minimal holding costs upon taking full site control, the city will position the property for immediate sale as-is with the intent that the purchaser of the site will join public-private efforts to revitalize downtown Xenia through planned redevelopment,” Merriman said.

The city currently plans to incorporate the Ramada site into plans for the adjacent Xenia Towne Square revitalization. Dillin Property Group, the company spearheading the revitalization of Xenia Towne Square, will be tapped to incorporate the space into the $124.8 million project. The city approved the plan in the spring to turn the largely vacant shopping strip into a plaza with dedicated spots for restaurants, shops, retail, and residential housing.

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