NATHAN STEPHANY, TRUMPET STAFF WRITER
The Red Fox Inn, located west of Waverly, will begin major reconstruction in 2021 after being purchased by 1859 Ventures LLC.
The Inn traces back decades in the community, officially opening its doors in 1974. It became the site for some Wartburg functions and employed students over the years. It fell into decline, and the inn’s owners decided to abandon it toward the end of the 2000’s, which took away employment opportunities for Wartburg students.
“At some point their mortgages were enough that they could not handle the payments, so they packed up and left,” Bill Werger, city attorney and director of community and economic development of Waverly, said. “When they did that, the banks hesitated to move in and take charge, and when they eventually did, they found little to sell. At that point, they walked away too, leaving it to us.”
The building stood empty for years, during which time it saw periods of vandalism and break-ins adding to the degradation of the space, according to Werger.
After the Inn was abandoned by its owners, the city of Waverly received ownership. 1859 Ventures LLC. won a 5-2 Waverly City Council vote over Bartels Lutheran Retirement, a local Waverly business, to purchase the property.
“The city saw [that it] may have to be bulldozed and that seemed like a waste,” James Bronner, Waverly city administrator, said. “We entertained the thought that there may be developers that may be interested in it. At that point, we sought approval from the council to go after the building. We acquired the building through a court process, eliminating most of the debt, paying off some of the others, but Waverly owned it free and clear.”
While the actual sale will not be approved by the city until Nov. 16, according to Werger, plans are already underway to renovate the property, including two large former hotel spaces, a restaurant and dining space, and a pool building.
“As of now, 1859 Ventures will convert the back building into about a 30-unit apartment building,” Bronner said. “The front building will stay a working hotel. The pool building will be redeveloped as a pool. They’d like to open two or so restaurants that could be open to the public and those staying in the hotel. They think there is space for other businesses on the property. That’s their purpose, what they’d like to accomplish.”
Construction is scheduled to begin this fall to prepare the building for the winter before major reconstruction begins in the spring of 2021.