CAIRO — The long vacant Cedar Terrace in Cairo has found an owner.
The property was sold at auction in October for $75,000, a bid Greene County lawmakers rejected in hopes of finding a buyer that would be in sync with the town of Cairo’s Comprehension Plan.
Greene County Legislator William Lawrence, R-Cairo, said he had concerns that if the former resort ended up in the wrong hands, that it would be converted into a residence for those on social services or individuals in transition.
“There are the motel units you see around the county, have been converted for usually people who are on some sort of social services,” Lawrence said, “because the spaces in Greene County are needed for people who either lost their houses, can’t afford a house or they transitioned from one county to another.”
And essentially, that is how the resort fell into it’s current state of disrepair.
Long-time owner Mary Lou Eisenhardt was unable to keep up with the taxes, Lawrence said. He said the county had been trying to help Eisenhardt pay off the taxes for a year and a half.
The 12 acre parcel, which houses seven different buildings, had been assessed at $700,000, according to the legislator and Eisenhardt was unable to make the payments, placing the property in the county’s possession.
During the October auction, a man from Canada placed a bid of $75,000 on the property and Lawrence asked Greene County Legislature Chairman Wayne Speenburgh to hold on the sale of the property while he searched for buyer that suit the needs of the town he represented.
“It [Cedar Terrace] is in a somewhat rundown state,” Speenburgh said. “It needs a lot of repairs. It hasn’t been upgraded in years. We had an inquiry by a local couple.”
Along came Steve and Julie Freemann.
Talk over the price of the property was discussed between the Freemans and the county and the final number, based on the cost of repairs, plumbing, roof repair and so forth, was $115,000.
“They were asked to send us a plan of what they would do with it and give us an offer on how much,” Speenburgh said, “and they came in with a plan and they came in with a bid.”
“We looked at their plan and this is a locally grown person and we certainly don’t want to have some body just invest in it and flip it,” Speenburgh added. “We wanted to protect the people of Cairo.”
Steve Freemann said, while they have a plan laid out, a lot of it is still based upon approval by the Cairo’s Planning Board and the Board of Health.
According to the plan submitted to the legislature, Freemann’s intention of opening a retail shop, retirement rental units (55 and older), a bed & breakfast and several of the existing motel units.
“The existing bar and dining area would be utilized as [a] meeting room only,” the plan states, “until it became feasible to establish some sort of eating facility.”
Freemann said there has been discussion over what items would be for sale in the retail shop with the likelihood of a combination of new and antique-like items, while finding room for local crafters.
“The first year we are there we are hoping to get the retail store up and running,” Freemann said. “We are hoping to get the approval from the Board of Health to get the motel units that are acceptable up and running and then the following year, concentrate on getting the bed & breakfast operable and possibly the apartments, if the town allows it.”
The plan is to advertise the property for what, Freemann said, people usually come to town for, the ski season, hunting season and leaf peepers, unless there are specific events happening in town like the Greene County Youth Fair.
Additionally, once Freemann is able to open the dining hall building, he said they would be able to utilize it for weddings and other events, where guests can book rooms at the former resort.
“There is always something going on,” Freemann said, “and I’m surprised when we have talked to different people in town how many have said, ‘Oh good, now I can tell people where to stay when they ask me where to stay when in Cairo.’”
Freemann said he never realized what a need there was for a close by motel and with the bevy of events that take place at Angelo Canna Town Park, he said he was certain people will be looking for a place to stay close by.
“So I don’t think we’ll have a problem getting people to stay in the motel,” Freemann said. “I just don’t think it is going to be the type of usage it used to get when it was a booming resort.”
Freemann said he understands there is a moratorium on renovations of resorts and said one out of seven of the buildings are intended as apartments but that probably wouldn’t happen until at least 2014 due to that moratorium on changes.
“I would have to propose that to the [Cairo] planning board,” Freemann said. “They would have to accept my proposal and then I can actually start doing some work on it.”
Lawrence said Freemann’s purchase of the property is a good thing for the town and a sigh of relief.
“I feel much better now because these people are local,” Lawrence said. “They grew up in Cairo, they know Mary Lou very well, so they are not going to throw her out to the wolves. They are going to help her as much as they can [and] they are going to fix the place up for a more multifaceted use.”