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Delavan roots for downtown hotel to thrive

Renovations under way at landmark  building

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Oct. 24, 2007, 1:30 p.m.)

Neglected even when it was in operation, the old Delavan House Hotel finally is getting a facelift.

Robert Slomczewski and Victor Osinski, both of the Chicago area, bought the building in 2005 and plan to see it reopened with a completely new look sometime next summer. It has been vacant for about three years.

“Me and my partner are fully dedicated to create something unusual for this location,” Slomzcewski said.

Demolition inside the 54-room hotel, at 215 W. Walworth Ave., is about 80 percent complete, Slomczewski said.

The first floor and the basement will include a new restaurant, bar, meeting and banquet areas and perhaps a pool, Slomczewski said. Final details of the plans still are being decided.

The hotel will be a franchised Holiday Inn and Suites, which should bring in customers with enough spending dollars to benefit the downtown, Slomczewski said.

“In Delavan, the only place you can stay and receive some kind of higher-level services is at Lake Lawn,” Slomczewski said. “There are other hotels, but we’re trying to bring something bigger.”

The renovation is expected to cost about $10 million, Slomzcewski said.

The Delavan House Hotel, or Delavan Inn as it was sometimes known, went through multiple owners but never gained the popularity of the hotel that stood in the same spot for nearly 100 years before burning in 1978, said Ron Henriott, former mayor and current member of the city’s planning commission.

“I think it’s gotten a bad reputation over the years,” Henriott said.

“I think when they redesigned it after the fire and re-did it, it just wasn’t the same. You never knew who was going to own it. It’d go three to four years with one owner and then move on.

“A lot of people, including myself, had relatives who would come to town, and we wouldn’t recommend it to them,” Henriott said. “If it gets over that reputation and they do a good job, I could see the downtown hotel thriving again.”

A thriving hotel is good for all the storefronts that make up historic downtown Delavan, with its cobblestone street through the heart of the city, area retailers say.

“I think this will be a big help,” said Linda Williams, owner of the Cobblestone Peddler, a home decorating and gift store across the street. “When you have a building like that that is vacant, that is a negative impact. Before it closed, a lot of people came in to see what we have.”

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