Lehigh Valley

Americus Hotel project gets $10 million green light

Financial backing wins confidence of ANIZDA

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - It was a dream come true Wednesday afternoon for downtown Allentown's historic Americus Hotel owner Albert Abdouche, who also owns the Palace Banquet and Conference Center on the city’s east side.

After years of petitioning for admission to the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone, Abdouche received approval. 

The formation of Americus Investors LP was the fuel Abdouche needed to make a successful presentation to the board, which rejected his previous petitions over the past several years primarily, because of a lack of necessary financial backing to bring the Americus back to life as an upscale hotel.

However, Abdouche approached the board Wednesday with his ducks firmly in a row, offering a well prepared presentation featuring an introduction of all of his new partners and what each of them would offer to satisfy ANIZDA's previously stated mandates.

According to a February 2016 list of city requirements from former planning director Shannon Calluori, developer Americus Investors offered the following solutions in order to secure board approval:

It secured a $9 million mortgage and $1 million bridge loan from First Keystone Community Bank of Stroudsburg at the end of last month in order to provide credit accommodations to the board.

Americus retained full-service hotel management company Marshall Hotels and Resorts (MH&R) of Maryland, which works not only with non-branded hotels, but with all major hotel chains, such as Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt and Choice Hotels.

According to MH&R Executive Vice President of Development Scott McMahon, his company specializes in operating three- and four-star hotels and very successfully revived both the historic George Washington Hotel in Winchester, Va., the Virginian Hotel in Lynchburg, Va., and the DoubleTree in Youngstown, Ohio.

The Americus will earn a minimum three-diamond rating as per AAA standards, achieved through MH&R management and renovations, restorations and design by newly-hired contractors JD Matthews Associates of Jenkintown and Shane Patrick Associates of Allentown.

Presentation materials noted ANIZDA and Abdouche collaboratively obtained an independent total project cost of $15.7 million. The city stated that any other funding to ensure hotel completion and meet previously set standards is the responsibility of Americus.

Abdouche pointed out that, to date, the revamp of the first three floors and lobby came out of his own pocket at a cost of $3.97 million. He said project soft costs include plumbing, heating, electrical and hot water upgrades in addition to installing a sprinkler system, handicap ramps and mezzanine railings.

Per city documentation, the project will receive $1.5 million in redevelopment capital project assistance from Pennsylvania.

Construction is scheduled to begin as soon as possible and will last through most of this year.


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