MALONE — The owners of the Hotel Flanagan have secured millions in financing to renovate the arson-damaged property at the corner of Main and Elm streets.

UICC Holding LLC completed negotiations in New York City to finance a reported $10.2 million in extensive renovations to create a first-class hotel that caters to high-end clientele.

It could have 80 rooms and feature an upscale restaurant and night club, valet parking and much more.

With the investors firmly in place, UICC can now push on with its renovations and repairs.

Project Manager Paul Abruzzi said he did not want to provide specific numbers, “but we have secured enough to see the project through to next year without any problems.

“We do have financing to do all the work for the project,” he said.

Specifications for the bids for contractors will be the next issue for UICC to work out, he said.

A small band of workers has been cleaning up the place off and on since last fall, emptying 57 dumpsters of trash out of the building.

The workers have picked up the pace in the last month by beginning to remove interior asbestos in the five-story structure.

Last week, a team used a jackhammer to break up and remove the front steps of the hotel.

“We’ll be done with the asbestos work in two or three weeks, and once we get them out of there, we can really get going,” Abruzzi said.

Senior Project Manager Frank Cositore Sr. was in Watertown Thursday to pick up the final drawings from the architect.

“From there, we’ll be flying to Arizona to meet with people from the Best Western,” Abruzzi said. “If that is approved, then you’ll see everything break loose.”

Shoring up the money was one of the final hurdles to moving along the project, which the owners hope to have open and ready for occupancy by Memorial Day 2008.

The company also recently wired $95,000 to the Franklin County Treasurer’s Office to pay its next installment toward a total of $225,000 in unpaid taxes on the property.

So far, UICC has paid $130,000 of the $225,000 owed, and it has kept all current-year taxes paid.

Before waiving interest and penalties that had accumulated on the property since the mid 1990s, the County Treasurer’s Office set up an installment plan where the back taxes could be paid in smaller increments over a two-year period as long as the current taxes were paid on time.

That tax-installment agreement was an important component of the terms of negotiations with the private financiers, who wanted to see that commitment before completing the contract with UICC.

The Flanagan has been vacant since 1997, when an arson fire tore through the hotel and killed a man.

It was boarded up to keep people out, but two years later, a man fell to his death down the elevator shaft during a night of drinking with friends.

Since the new millennium, proposals have been made to preserve the place and rebuild it to its former glory.

But those plans bumped up against an opposing faction that wanted to see the eyesore torn down.

After years of wrangling and little real action, UICC bought the place in April 2004 and has been trying since then to secure the financial backing it needs.

Apparently, that has now been settled.



E-mail Denise A. Raymo at:

draymo@pressrepublican.com

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