'A community hotel:' Perry Economic Development completes purchase of Hotel Pattee and La Poste

Allison Ullmann
Perry Chief
The front entrance to the Hotel Pattee. Perry Economic Development completed the purchase of the hotel and La Poste on April 1.

Business has continued at the Hotel Pattee as Perry Economic Development completed the purchase of the hotel and La Poste on April 1.

“I think that’s going to be a huge benefit to everybody, to be able to just have it be stable and be sustainable,” Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson said. “And that’s kind of been our mantra, we want to bring stability and sustainability so that the hotel can thrive from here on out.” 

A news release said the April 1 purchase was a conclusion to the agreement Perry Industries, Inc. and Perry Economic Development, Inc. had with Maxwell Hospitality, LLC and HPLP, LLC. to acquire the Hotel Pattee and La Poste assets

Tom Burkgren, Perry Industries President, said in a separate interview that the process started five years ago when Jay and Denise Hartz put the Hotel Pattee up for sale. 

“Perry Industries and Perry Economic Development kind of embarked on a fact-finding mission to see what ownership of the hotel locally might look like,” Burkgren said.

Tom Maxwell then came forward as a buyer and took over ownership in March of 2018. Burkgren said Perry Industries and Perry Economic Development picked up their efforts again after Maxwell indicated he wanted to sell the hotel in the fall of 2020.

“We started looking at the financials and, in discussion with the city as well, (talked about) how we could structure that public-private partnership,” Burkgren said. 

The hotel has gone through various ownership models over the years. Howard and Roberta Ahmanson became owners of the Hotel Pattee in September of 1993 and made significant renovations. The hotel has seen one hospitality corporation and two different family models of ownership since the Ahmanson’s sold the property.

Peterson added in a separate interview that the city and Perry Economic Development have partnered with the various owners to provide grants or loans totaling around $2 million over the past 12 to 13 years.

“Our main goal both five years ago and today, is really to assure the sustainability of the hotel,” Burkgren said after seeing other types of ownership models come through. 

He added that Perry Economic Development, with the city’s agreement, revisited the public-private partnership model with the goal of the city taking over ownership in the future.

A news release said a combination of public funding and private contributions will make up that funding model for the purchase and operation of the Hotel Pattee and La Poste. A memorandum of understanding with the City of Perry was approved at the Feb. 1 Perry City Council meeting. The City of Perry will make initial economic contributions to the project totaling more than $650,000 through the memorandum, solidifying a major portion of the public part of the funding model.

Osmundson Mfg. Co.’s $500,000 leadership gift helped launch the $2.35 million campaign phase to raise additional funds through private donations. A news release said the fundraising effort has raised around $1.5 million beyond the City of Perry’s contribution. Fundraising efforts will continue through June to raise the remaining $850,000 needed to help reach the overall goal for hotel operations.

“We’ve been very well received and found a lot of support out in the community for what we’re doing and recognition of why we’re doing it,” Burkgren said in a separate interview about the fundraising campaign.

Perry Industries Vice President Matt McDevitt said while it was important to reach the closing amount needed to own the hotel, it’s equally important to have money for operations and to make necessary repairs. 

“Our goal is to really have the hotel in fine operating shape when we hand it over to the city so they don’t have to expend a lot of city funds to bring it up to date,” Burkgren said. “The second phase, if we are really, really successful, we would like to establish a foundation that’s dedicated to the preservation of the property. Again, so we don’t have to burden the taxpayers of Perry with anything down the road.”

He added that one of the keys for the hotel’s future success will be taking maintenance off the table and having a fund where the city can reach into to take care of those items.

Peterson said it’s the city’s intention to not have the purchase of the Hotel Pattee and La Poste properties increase taxes. Moving forward, he added that primary resources for supporting the hotel will be through tax increment financing, local option sales tax and the hotel-motel tax that the city collects.

“The hotel is such an economic generator engine for Perry. It’s also ingrained in the brand of Perry,” McDevitt said. “It’s important for us here at least to put our best foot forward to be able to ensure the hotel will remain as important for people to come.”

Perry Economic Development completed the purchase of the Hotel Pattee and La Poste on April 1.

The hotel brings in as many as 65,000 people per year while La Poste serves as an event space for weddings, reunions, dinners, graduations and more. La Poste is also gathering space for art and music as it hosts the annual Art on the Prairie, holiday events and more.

“That’s just such a natural combination, they complement each other so well and bring business to each other so well. That’s a great asset to be able to partner together,” Peterson said of the two properties.

He added that the project would not have been possible without the partnership with Perry Economic Development.

“Nothing of this scale goes on in Perry without a partnership between the city and Perry Economic Development. It’s another example of good things being done,” Burkgren said.

Work will progress after the purchase as Perry Economic Development continues its fundraising campaign.

“We want the folks in Perry to have ownership of the hotel and feel like it’s a community hotel, city owned, but that they can come in for a meal or a drink or to just come in to look at the artwork,” Burkgren said. “This is so much more than just a hotel and restaurant, it’s really an art museum, it’s really a history museum. We really want that community sense of ownership.”

“It’s part of our community and it’s part of our history and it’s important that we do what we can to help preserve that,” Peterson added.

Contributions to the fundraising campaign can be made by contacting any Perry Economic Development board members or the City of Perry office or by emailing: fundraising@hotelpattee.com. Pledges/checks may be sent to Perry Economic Development, Inc , c/o PO Box 158, Perry, Iowa 50220.

The exterior of the Hotel Pattee.