Trotter Contracting, Inc owner Chris Trotter said he has a pending agreement to buy the Lamoine Hotel building in downtown Macomb from Gatehouse Media.
The deal is not yet final, but it appears to be coming just in the nick of time for the five story building.
“Something has to be done soon or it won’t be salvageable,” said City Administrator Dean Torreson, who added it would cost the city an estimated $500,000 to demolish the building.
Trotter concurred with Torreson regarding the building’s condition.
“If it deteriorates any more, we’re probably not interested in it,” Trotter said. “So time is of the essence, definitely, on this project.”
His plan is to put a new roof on the building, then repair the interior, which has sustained heavy water damage. After that he intends to sell the building to a non-profit group that is involved with assisted living. Trotter has been working with the group, though he declined to name it.
The second through fifth floors would be converted to assisted living apartments, while the first floor could include offices, a conference room, an activity room, and possibly a restaurant.
All of the plans depend on whether Trotter can secure a USDA loan. He is confident he can get one after a market study is completed.
A preliminary development agreement also calls for the city to contribute $200,000 in accrued TIF District funds, which the city had set aside for the Lamoine. In addition, the project is eligible for enterprise zone benefits, historical district tax credits, and funding from the city’s façade program.
Trotter said the assisted living non-profit group is keen on the Lamoine.
“It comes down to location. They like Macomb. They like the area,” said Trotter. “Just a great location. It really is.”
Chandler Park is right across the street from the Lamoine, and Trotter said the group also found that appealing.
The Lamoine Hotel was built in the mid-1920s . The cornerstone describes it as “A Community Enterprise.” The book McDonough County Historic Sites by John Hallwas reports the hotel was built after a community investment campaign. It said the Lamoine had 86 rooms, plus an elegant dining room, a barber shop, a soda fountain, and other amenities on the first floor.
Records from the courthouse show the building was acquired by Liberty Group Holdings, publisher of the Macomb Journal, in 1998, then was acquired by Gatehouse Media in 2007 when it bought the Journal, which is now known as the McDonough County Voice.
Former Voice reporter Dave Gong shot a brief video of the upper floors, which can be seen here.
City Hall has been trying for nearly a decade to find a developer to rejuvenate the building. Torreson said the city had to take an active role in making something happen, otherwise the building “will sit there and continue to rot.”
Trotter said he has lived his entire life in Macomb and has always had his eye on the Lamoine. He said it would be “devastating” to the downtown area if the building had to be torn down.