MWCD to hire Columbus hotel broker for sale of Atwood Lodge

February 22, 2010

A Columbus real estate broker with expertise in hotel and commercial properties will assist the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District’s (MWCD) effort to sell all or portions of the property at the 104-room Atwood Lodge.


The MWCD Board of Directors agreed to hire the firm CB Richard Ellis to assist in its work to sell the lodge and some surrounding property during a recent meeting at New Philadelphia. Board members also directed the MWCD staff to consult with a national resort business expert to assist the sales effort and to form a public stakeholders’ group to include public officials and citizens for feedback and guidance.


John M. Hoopingarner, MWCD executive director/secretary, said that an estimated 600 acres of property at the lodge site are available for sale and that CB Richard Ellis will handle inquiries and negotiations. In addition, nationally recognized resort management expert John F. Meeske of Resorts and Clubs Inc. of Michigan will provide assistance to the MWCD and CB Richard Ellis.


“The MWCD is fortunate to be able to work with experts in the field such as CB Richard Ellis and John Meeske and his staff to assist with the sale of the lodge property in the present economic climate,” Hoopingarner said. “We also are looking forward to providing information to our region’s public officials and the general public and receiving feedback that may assist with a sale of the lodge that will benefit the Carroll County community.”


In January, the MWCD Board voted to keep the lodge at Atwood Lake Resort and Conference Center open until Oct. 1 and to continue efforts to sell it. The Board cited financial losses suffered over the past several years coupled with projected losses in future years that led to its action.


The lodge is located off Rt. 542 between Sherrodsville and Dellroy in Carroll County. The hotel operation and surrounding property are the only locations affected by the decision – none of the other amenities and facilities in the Atwood Lake region, including the two marinas, Atwood Lake Park and more than 4,500 acres of property managed by the MWCD in the Atwood region, are being sold.


The lodge currently is open weekends only (except for special events) through April 30, and then will open for full operations seven days a week from May 1 through Sept. 30.


The lodge operation finished with a deficit of more than $1 million in 2009 and was projected to lose more than $1 million in 2010 if operations continued as usual, officials said. The facility is owned by the MWCD and has been in continuous operation since 1965.


The resort includes the main lodge and meeting center, two golf courses (an 18-hole regulation course and a lighted, nine-hole, par-3 course), 17 vacation cabins and indoor and outdoor swimming pools, along with other amenities. The entire property will be considered in sale proposals, except for the land containing the 17 vacation cabins located across from the main lodge entrance off Rt. 542.


Day-to-day operations of the facility have been handled through a management contract for the past several years by Prospera, which employs the staff at the lodge. The operation currently has about 20 full-time and 40 part-time employees.


Atwood Lake Park and its campgrounds and facilities are not affected by the decision to sell the lodge and will be open as usual in 2010. The two marinas located in the Atwood Lake region also are open and will continue normal operations. Two major events scheduled at Atwood Lake Park – Alive 2010, the Christian music festival set for June 23-26, and the 28th Annual Atwood Area Fall Festival on Oct. 1-3 – also will be held as announced.


The MWCD announced early in 2009 that Atwood Lake Resort & Conference Center was for sale as one of the primary goals established by the Board of Directors for the year. The resort, located in Carroll County near Dellroy and Sherrodsville, has been losing money for several years and was becoming an increasing drain on the MWCD’s budget and ability to make improvements at its other recreation sites, including lake parks and campgrounds, Hoopingarner said.


Prospera and Kent State University Tuscarawas have offered to participate in partnerships with any potential buyers, although each has said it is not interested in purchasing the lodge.


The MWCD, a political subdivision of the state, was organized in 1933 to develop and implement a plan to reduce flooding and conserve water for beneficial public uses in the Muskingum River Basin, the largest wholly contained watershed in Ohio. Since their construction, the reservoirs (including Atwood Lake) and dams in the MWCD region have been credited for saving more than 7 billion worth of potential property damage from flooding, according to the federal government.


Funds collected by the MWCD assessment of property owners in the region for maintenance and rehabilitation of the reservoirs and dams are prohibited by law from being used to financially support operations at Atwood Lake Resort, Hoopingarner said.

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