No rooms at the Inn
A High Country tradition closed its doors Monday, but its water wheel keeps rolling.
The High Country Inn was sold to Mega Builders, the company responsible for Mountaineer Village Apartments.
Frank Ford, director of development, confirms the structure will be converted into student-oriented apartments. He is hoping for 120 units, the current number of guestrooms at the inn.
Most of the units will be efficiency one-bedrooms, but some two-bedroom units will be available.
The efficiencies will be priced at $550 per month, including utilities, cable and internet. The two bedroom units have not been priced.
Twin City Management Incorporated, an affiliate of Mega Builders, plans to have the units ready for occupancy by August 1 of this year, communications director Sharon Lane said. Construction could begin as early as Wednesday.
Lane confirms the water wheel and other water amenities, will remain intact.
The planned complex will be called Studio West Apartments.
The 5.7-acre tract was tax valued at $2,749,400 and sold for $2,600,000.
"It's been a great 25 years and... we hate having to close, but appreciate everyone's support," High Country Inn manager Scott Bellack said.
The inn's previous owner, Gene Messenkopf, bought the inn in June of 1984. A combination of things led him to sell the property.
"It's a function of the steep recession we've been in for several years," Messenkopf said.
The inn was unable to secure financing to update its rooms. That, and the economic climate, pushed down guest occupancy, he said.
The 12 employees on the inn's payroll were given about a month's notice and Bellack said most have already found other employment.
As for Messenkopf, he said he has other business interests in the area.
"I'm still not sure what I'm going to do now," he said.
Geno's Sports Lounge and Restaurant, embedded in the hotel, will remain open with its 10 employees at least through the Super Bowl.
Lane said the company had not made a decision on what to do with the restaurant.