After foreclosure, Merrimack hotel again up for sale

MERRIMACK – Inside the old hotel, many friends were reunited. Couples exchanged wedding vows. Chefs clinked knives in culinary competitions and retirees celebrated their newfound freedom.

The hotel also hosted then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992 when he logged an unexpected, second-place finish in the primary. During his famed speech before 700 supporters, he anointed himself the “comeback kid.”

The former Merrimack Hotel & Conference Center was a busy place for about 25 years, even though it changed hands and traded names many times.

For the past two years, the place has been shuttered. But after an auction and foreclosure this past fall, the property is now under new ownership – and once again for sale.

Peter Annon, a real estate agent from the Portsmouth-based broker Wason Associates, said New Stream Capital, LLC, has bought the building and land, at 4 Executive Drive, just off the F.E. Everett Turnpike at Exit 11.

Annon said he recognizes the challenges in the current economy, and said it’s probable the industry will have more commercial foreclosures before things get better.

“The problem is banks were financing things at sometimes 95 percent, and with the downturn of the economy, people can’t make their loan payments.”

Still, Annon said the he’s hopeful for a sale based on the building’s location and potential.

“We’re marketing it to all different, groups: hotels, assisted living, student housing, etc.,” Annon said. “It’s probably going to take some creative thinking and planning . . . and it might take a couple groups to get involved.”

New Stream, based in Ridgewood, Conn., is offering the four-story, 140,000 square-foot hotel and conference center at $7 million. A three-unit strip center on a smaller, neighboring piece of land is listed $1.4 million, along with a freestanding parcel nearby at $500,000. Altogether, the property sits on 16 acres.

According to property data on the town’s assessing Web site, the building was constructed in 1979.

Annon said it opened in 1980 as a Hilton Hotel with 203 rooms. In the mid-1980s, it was converted to a Ramada Inn.

Sometime in the early 1990s, it carried the “Merrimack Inn” name. Later that decade, an independent group took over, calling it the Merrimack Hotel & Conference Center.

According to Telegraph reports, still more changes occurred in the early 2000s.

Next, The Procaccianti Group of Providence, R.I., took over, completed a $3 million makeover and joined the property to the Radisson hotel group.

Finally, about two years ago, the Marriott hotel company filed plans for perhaps the biggest renovation yet, including additional floors and a 50,000-square foot indoor water park that would be almost as big as the hotel itself.

The property was gutted and stripped for that work, but it stalled, Annon said.

A spokesman for the most recent owners, Merrimack Hotel Investors LLC, in Dublin, Ohio, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. Merrimack Hotel Investors officially foreclosed in November, according to the town’s assessing department.

Annon said New Stream picked up the building at auction. It remains in an unfinished state, but he said the space could lend itself to uses in hospitality and healthcare sectors or even a satellite location for colleges or universities.

“It does have what no other place has, which is a conference center,” Annon said. “That’s an advantage there.”

Annon said he came on board to show the property in November and has had several inquiries.

“It’s going to be a big project so, people have to look at numbers,” he said.