May 09, 2019MEREDITH — All Mill Falls on the Lake hotels are now under new ownership after being sold to a Rhode Island Company with former principal Edward "Rusty" McLear stepping aside.
As of April 26 the Hampshire Hospitality Holdings properties including the Mills Falls, the Chase House, the the Inn at Church Landing, the Inn at Bay Point are now owned by TPG Hotels & Resorts of Cranston, Rhode Island.
McLear said a number of factors went into his decision to sell the company. He is 73-years-old now, and others in the company are close to that age, plus they have been managing these properties for the past 36 years.
The properties consist of 300,000 square feet of wooden buildings, some of which are quite old. McLear said they capital budget has more than doubled in the past four or five years and will probably double again in the next five years.
"That would mean (we) would have to spend $5 million a year to keep the place up," McLear said. "That is going to be a problem."
He researched the recent history of older properties such as the Mountain View Grand Resort, the Mount Washington Hotel, and Plymouth By the Sea in Massachusetts. He said all of those had the same problems that eventually got much worse for the businesses.
McLear said the options were to find a rich partner or a big company to partner with or sell the company. After consideration the decision was made to sell.
McLear worked with JLL, a company out of Chicago that sells commercial real estate. With no desire to publicly advertise the company, JLL put word out to CEO's and other large company owners that the company was up for sale. McLear and his partners put together a prospectus, which was sent out to 14 different companies. Within a month 12 of those companies said they were interested and visited the property, then four made an offer.
The sale was made to TPG Hotels & Resorts of Cranston, Rhode Island owned by the family-run Procaccianti Companies. The company manages over 160 hotels and over 30,000 guest rooms around the country, operating and developing hotels for Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham, and a number of others.
"They were big enough to make sure the properties can be taken care of," McLear said.
McLear said Pricaccianti Companies President and CEO James Procaccianti has a son who attends New Hampton School and he has stayed at Mill Falls properties numerous times.
"Mill Falls at the Lake is a remarkable destination our family has admired and visited for decades," Procaccianti said in a statement posted on the company Web site. "Opportunities to operate heirloom-quality, historic properties like Mill Falls are extremely rare and we feel privileged to be the new custodians of the tremendous legacies the company has established within the community."
McLear said the sale was an emotional process.
"I realize this was absolutely the right thing to do, it made it much easier to do," McLear said. "It's still pretty emotional to me."
All of Mill Falls' employees have been retained including General manager Gail Batstone, Head of Engineering Tim Marchand, head of spa Martha Zyla, and more. The company will still retain the Common Man restaurants. McLear said he himself is the only current member of the company who will not be continuing.
"It's been a great ride, and a great community to hook my wagon to," McLear said.
McLear will be staying in Meredith and will focus on his own company Granite State Hospitality. McLear and Alex Ray of the Common Man will continue their involvement in the Hooksett Welcome Centers on I-93 (along with partner Brad pernaw) and the Common Man Inn and Restaurant in Claremont. McLear will also keep the Ekal building, the Mobil gas station, and a number of buildings on Main Street. McLear said they did purchase a large piece of land on Main Street for an as-yet unnamed project. The company's main offices will be located in a building on Main Street, which they are moving into now.
McLear, Ray, and Pernaw will be opening some small Common Man Roadside stores similar to the ones at the rest areas. So far plans are in place to open one in Plymouth and one in Manchester.
McLear said he has gotten a lot of support from people in town since word of the sale got out.
"I can't tell you how many people that have come up to me in the grocery store and the post office who have said kind things," McLear said. "Pretty much the whole thing's been great."