EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- "We think the area is a great part of Eau Claire, it's seen better days and I think it will see better days again," said Zach Halmstad.
Halmstad wants those better days to come sooner than later. His company, Pablo Properties, is now the new owner of the former downtown Ramada hotel in Eau Claire. He also owns Jamf Software which is building a new office in downtown Eau Claire near Phoenix Park.
The building, originally built in 1970, has sat vacant since November. But soon it will become a bustling area of activity. Halmstad says renovations will start very soon with hopes to have the doors open by the end of the year.
He is catering to travelers, locals and professionals.
"People with banks downtown and law firms downtown, they have offices downtown but they refuse to put their co-workers up downtown," he said.
The new hotel will have about 80 to 90 rooms including suites and places for long-term stays. It also includes a new first floor restaurant, coffee shop and renovations to the convention center.
Eau Claire City Manager Russ Van Gompel says the buy is good news for the city. He had been concerned about a vacant building's effect on property values.
"We're really interested in protecting property values and having that investment help other properties as well," he said.
Over at the Purple Petunia and Calico Shoppe, Dan Goelzer is optimistic.
"It's a fairly good looking building with the brick; a little paint in a few spots wouldn't be bad to fix it up, “he said.
He said service was always good at the hotel and restaurant; it was just not promoted well.
Now he is hopeful a new owner can help bring more people downtown and give them a place to stay a little longer.
At this point no name has been chosen for the hotel and they are also deciding whether to operate as a franchise or to operate as an independent hotel.