DELAVAN—It was a big moment for Delavan.
In 2013, Sean Patel of Best Hospitality announced he and his partners had bought the Delavan House Hotel, a five-story, 60-room, 41,000-square-foot building at the center of downtown. The hotel had been empty for more than a decade, and city officials were overjoyed at the prospect of its revitalization.
The city helped Patel secure a $200,000 Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation grant. As part of the grant agreement, Patel was required to spend $600,000.
He's spent that amount—and much more—according to city officials, but the hotel is still not open.
In December 2013, Patel said he expected the hotel to be open in May 2014.
Then the completion date was moved to fall 2014.
At some point in 2014, the WEDC agreed to give him another year to get the work done on the hotel.
WEDC spokesman Kelly Lietz said the organization agreed to give the project more time because of “unexpected issues they encountered in construction.”
In April 2015, Patel said he expected to have one or two floors open in time for a city-wide event in June. It didn't happen.
At 11:45 a.m. on a recent Tuesday, only two workers could be found on the first floor of the building. Both were working on a chandelier. Elsewhere, the building was quiet.
A hunt for a construction supervisor or other authority figure on the building's second floor yielded no results. Down the second floor hallway, new doors were propped against finished walls. The ceiling appeared to be mostly complete. In the rooms, new furniture and fixtures were covered with plaster and other construction dust.
Only one other worker was seen.
The lobby had a similar appearance. An area that looked like it might be a lounge had a finished tile wall with a television mount. Another area that looked like it might serve as the check-in desk had some furniture ready to go, but everything was covered by dust and construction debris.
Elsewhere, the walls and ceilings were unfinished. New furniture stacked in the corner was half-covered with a tarpaulin.
To date, Patel has received $150,000 of the $200,000 WEDC grant, said Delavan City Administrator Denise Pieroni.
Pieroni said Patel's deadline for finishing work and getting the remaining amount is October.
She also said Patel had encountered unforeseen problems in construction. He had to replace the elevator that he thought was up to code, put in a new sprinkler system, replace the plumbing and bring electrical systems up to code.
In other words, the project turned out to be more complicated that he expected.
But Pieroni said Patel was making progress. The HVAC and electrical work had been cleared by state and local inspectors, a significant hurdle.
Patel has also continued to pay franchise fees. The hotel will be a Baymont Inn when it opens.
Patel stressed that he was grateful for the city's support and acknowledged that the project turned out to be much more complicated than expected.
Two floors were almost ready to go, he said.
As for the lobby area, the unfinished area was going to be a restaurant, and the plan was to open the hotel first and the restaurant later.
When would the hotel open?
Things were at a critical stage, and he was hesitant to specify a date, but he said it could be as soon as the middle of August.
As for the lack of workers in the building, Patel said his team was working from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. When the Gazette reporter and photographer were at the site, the workers were probably in another area of the building, Patel said.
When asked if he had a general contractor, Patel said the work was being overseen by Dream Construction and Remodeling.
The company lists its mailing address as 3121 Wellington Place, Janesville, which is also the address of Microtel Inn & Suites, Janesville.
A spokeswoman for Wyndham Hotel Group said the hotel was owned by Sanjay Patel. The number the spokeswoman gave out, however, was for Sean Patel.