A Minnesota-based operator of boutique hotels has paid $3.27 million for the Suites of 800 Locust hotel and spa in downtown Des Moines.

Rebound 800 Locust LLC, an entity created by Rebound Hospitality of Northfield, Minn., closed the deal Monday, and the deed and mortgage were filed Tuesday in Polk County.

The Suites of 800 Locust has been operated and owned in recent years by B.J. Knapp and his sister, Bradie Weeter. The 101-year-old structure was the original home of the Des Moines Club. It was purchased in the 1990s by their father, developer Bob Knapp.

The boutique hotel opened in 2000 and provided luxury accommodations to business travelers, tourists and performing artists during their stays in Des Moines. It has 51 rooms, a restaurant lounge, a spa and fitness facilities.   

Rebound Hospitality acquires and operates small hotel properties.  It owns and operates the Hotel Winneshiek in Decorah, Archer House River Inn and Lost Lake Lodge in Minnesota.

 

Todd Byhre, director of operations for Rebound, said the company had looked at hotels in the Greater Des Moines area for the better part of a year, including the recently sold Hotel Pattee in Perry.

 

However, the ongoing revitalization of downtown Des Moines played a significant role in Rebound’s decision to buy the Suites of 800 Locust, he said.

 

“We saw the financials and how strong of a market Des Moines is for hospitality and the revitalization downtown, it will keep growing for a long time into the future, it became clear that this was going to be a really good fit,” he said.

 

He said the structure of the hotel is exceptional and he praised some of the touches that were put in place, such as granite and marble bathrooms.

 

Changes afoot including simplifying the name to 800 Locust Hotel and Spa, updating Internet service, installing iPod docks in rooms and charging stations in the lobby, replacing televisions with flat-screen models.

 

Byhre said many of the updates will be on the “softer side,” such as launching an improved website that will compete with national hotel brands, improving bedding to “above industry standards,” and changing the cancellation policy from 24 hours in advance to 4 p.m. the day of the reservation. At least 3 percent of revenues will be set aside each year for future capital improvement projects.

 

Byhre also praised the management of the hotel. Bradie Weeter was responsible for day-to-day operations.

 

“Bradie and the gang did a real good job without lot of experience,” he said.

Weeter could not be reached for comment. B.J. Knapp would not talk about the transaction.

 

Bob Knapp, who is serving a federal prison term for violating the federal Clean Air Act while renovating another historic downtown building, was in the process of transferring many of his far-ranging holdings to his children when real estate and financial markets collapsed, leaving many of the properties saddled with debt. Just one of the properties remains after the sale of the hotel.

 

Among other things, Polk County property records also show he accrued about $300,000 in state tax liens for failure to pay sales taxes that were generated by transactions at the hotel. Those liens were released in June 2012 after the taxes were paid, according to a filing with the Polk County recorder.

 

The sale of the Suites of 800 Locust was brokered by Adam Montufar of Chicago-based Paramount Lodging Advisors. Montufar is based in Greater Des Moines.