St. George Restaurant Partner to Buy White Inn | News, sports, jobs

OBSERVER’s file photo is of the White Inn at 52 Main St., Fredonia.

Local business chief Steve St. George, owner of St. for an undisclosed amount. According to St. George and Johns, the iconic building will return to its original splendor as a hotel, restaurant, bar and event space.

Empire State Development recently awarded a $519,448 grant to assist in the acquisition and redevelopment of the historic Inn.

Officials with the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Development and the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency said they were pleased to provide support in developing the grant application and worked with state officials to advocate for the project. The county IDA will continue to provide support and assistance in obtaining loans, grants and other incentives to make the project financially viable.

“We’ve worked behind the scenes for four years to best help catalyze a positive outcome for the Inn,” said Mark Geese, IDA’s chief executive and deputy county executive director for economic development. “After several stalled attempts by other interested parties, I feel confident that Mr. St. George’s efforts will prove successful. Steve is not doing anything halfway.”

The house that is the core of the inn was built by the White family in 1868. It was expanded, converted, and opened to guests in 1920.

Entering the second century, many of the original architectural details were preserved throughout the hotel including tin ceilings, numerous fireplaces, eaves and cornices. The 24 fully furnished guest rooms and suites are filled with a variety of antiques such as four-poster beds, iron beds, and wardrobes. A large dining room, banquet room, lounge and spacious kitchen area on the first floor has been designed to facilitate catering to large numbers of guests.

While the facility shows traces of vacant seating for several years, St. George has done extensive due diligence to ascertain what it needs and what it will take to bring it back to life, and is ready to restore it completely to its original splendor.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to give back to Fredonia,” Saint George said. “I know what the White Inn means to the community, and I want to do everything in my power to restore it and make it a point of pride in the community again. My team and I know what we are up to and are ready to take on the challenge.”

he added, “I would like to thank CCIDA for all their help in helping make this challenging project a reality.”

The historic White Inn operated in 1886 as a prominent hotel and restaurant continuously for a century until its closure in 2017. The three-story, 25,000-square-foot facility offers 24 guest rooms, a restaurant, flexible banqueting space, and a lounge.

“I am very excited that Steve has decided to move forward with this project,” Jays said. “Honestly, I can’t think of anyone else who would do this project because everything Steve does is excellent. This has been a very long process with a lot of moving parts to get to this point; it was a whole team effort that led to a positive result.”

“In addition to our team, I would like to thank Paula Blanchard and David Doerr of Hana Commercial Realty for their diligence and assistance in the process,” Jays concluded.

The Inn is located at 52 East Main St. , Fredonia, and has operated continuously as a preeminent institution in the village for nearly 100 years. Its closure has left a gaping hole in the area, especially for Fredonia State University in New York. A study commissioned by SUNY Fredonia, conducted by the Core Distinction Group, documents an immediate need for “Upper Intermediate Level” Hotel in Dunkirk / Fredonia. Currently, tourists and university visitors have limited overnight accommodation options, and many choose to stay in Buffalo and the surrounding areas. The university, with more than 10,000 visitors annually, in the form of parents, alumni, performers, scholars, and speakers. The possibility of partnering with the college to attract these guests is expected to result in year-round guest occupancy, and enable the local economy to attract additional visitor spending.

“This is great news,” said County Administrator PJ Wendel. “My economic development team has come again. The economic impact of this on the village, university, county, and district will be huge.”

According to Mayor Doug Eske, Fredonia Village sees this opportunity as central to its downtown development strategy and complementary to more than $4 million in public funding recently invested in downtown and walkability improvements, historic Parker Common renovation, and improvements to the 1891 Opera House Center for the Performing Arts.

“I am very excited that Mr. St. George and Mr. Jones are taking on this project and amplifying such a significant investment in our community,” said Esek. “Thank you to the District, CCIDA, Empire State Development, community stakeholders, and everyone else who had a role in making this outcome a reality. The White Inn is the heart of downtown, and without it our Main Street has suffered greatly.”

The complete restoration of White in is expected to take about one year with hopes of reopening in late 2023 or early 2024.

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