The Midwest Hotel, a five-story slab of blight at the intersection of 20th Street and Main, has been sold. Re/Max Commercial Solutions real-estate broker Gibson Kerr says the building was sold Wednesday in a foreclosure auction on the Jackson County Courthouse steps.
"Great American Bank is now the proud owner," he says. "They were the only one who bid on the whole thing."
He did not know the sale price.
The building has long been an ugly spot for the Crossroads District. The hotel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has stood vacant for several years. In the early aughts, the hotel was a magnet for drug crime and prostitution. (For a 2003 Pitch story, writer Casey Logan spent a harrowing week in the hotel, experiencing its full awfulness.)
The building's saga has gone on so long, Kerr can't even remember exactly how long he's been trying to sell it.
"I've had it listed off and on for probably four or five years. Who's counting at this point?"
The building used to adjoin the Hereford House restaurant. The steakhouse burned to the ground in 2008, and last October, partial owner Rod Anderson was convicted of arson in the blaze. Kerr says he represented Anderson in trying to sell the restaurant and the hotel years ago. The arson not only destroyed the restaurant but it also played a role in the hotel blighting the corner.
"Next thing I know, I'm reading the paper, and the building blew up in an arson fire. At that point, the Midwest Hotel went into bankruptcy because it was owned by a separate group," Kerr says. "And their only source of income was the rent that Hereford House was paying them for the first floor."
The Midwest Hotel has been a debacle for years, Kerr says.
"There's been multiple owners, then it got tied up in bankruptcy, then there was the arson. It's just been a disaster for several years," he says.
Kerr wouldn't comment on what Great American Bank will do with the property, but redevelopment seems likely. The bank owns the squat building directly north of the hotel and the land to the south. But the building, which is 5,000 square feet per floor, is in such rough shape, it might not be worth preserving.
"It's kind of borderline whether it's worth going through all the administrative work that you need to go through for historic tax credits," Kerr says.
Even without knowing the plans for the site, the sale is good news for the neighborhood, he says.
"It's such a primo corner. I mean, it's one of the best corners in downtown. It's almost kind of like a gateway entry point to downtown," he says. "Now it's in a position where somebody can develop it."