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Party at the Rieger

Andy Ouriel • Nov 9, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Several businesses have checked into possibly working out of a former hotel property.

But planners affiliated with the former Rieger Hotel, currently undergoing a major renovation, are celebrating a new business opening up there.

Tentative plans call for a banquet facility debuting on the property’s first floor sometime in 2014.

Greg Spatz, who previously owned the entire property, recently made the announcement. Spatz still controls lease space on the building’s ground floor.

At least five area caterers support the unique concept, Spatz said.

Spatz, who’ll oversee the banquet facility, won’t require people booking space to purchase food and drinks.

No such gathering place, where dozens of people can celebrate weddings and other occasions indoors, exists in downtown Sandusky, Spatz said.    “Not only will they be using our facility, but they’ll patronize the other businesses down here,” said Spatz. “If we have two events a week, that’s 400 people coming downtown.”

But the business opportunities inside the Rieger are abundant. Enough room exists to fit at least a couple more businesses next to the banquet facility.

To date, entrepreneurs representing real estate companies, a salon and even a microbrewery have approached Spatz about opening up a business at the property on Jackson and West Market streets.

The spaces — equipped with electricity, new utilities and other amenities such as handicap accessible bathrooms — should be completed by mid-2014.

Meanwhile, construction crews aim to completely finish overhauling the Rieger Building sometime late next year.

Since February, crews have been working on modernizing the 65,000- square-foot facility.

The transformation began only after Columbus-based Buckeye Community Hope Foundation secured $8 million in tax credits to fund a complete property restoration. Local tax dollars are not funding the project.

Crews are sculpting space to accommodate 37 apartments for senior citizens.

Local studies show the area’s elder population will balloon from 18,000 today to roughly 26,000 in seven years, displaying an obvious need for senior housing. Today’s 18,000 seniors represent 23 percent of Erie County’s 77,000 residents.

“When finished, this will be a good thing for the community,” Rieger project coordinator Dan Spenthoff said.

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