Deadline passes on Kent hotel

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

A week after a deadline to decide the fate of the historic Kent hotel has passed, the owners of the structure still haven't made their decision known to city officials.

Hotel owner Joseph Bujack is under court order to decide whether to do more extensive renovations or raze the building. The deadline to tell officials of his plans was April 1. As of Friday, Assistant Law Director Thomas Reitz said he still had not received the decision.

Reitz said he discussed the matter with City Manager Lew Steinbrecher, and the two decided not to press the matter right away.

"Judges are generally impressed if you don't jump on things the first day, because people are human," he said.

If no response is received by Wednesday, he said, he plans to write a letter to Bujack's lawyer, Robert Paoloni, asking what delayed his decision.

He noted that the April 1 deadline is merely the date set down to inform the city about the fate of the hotel, and that Bujack still has six months to either raze or renovate it.

"There is a chance his lawyer has sent a letter that hasn't arrived yet," he said.

Paoloni was out of town and could not be reached for comment. Bujack deferred comment to his daughter, Elizabeth, who did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The city had filed for a permanent injunction last year to close the structure until it met health, building and fire codes. One of the primary concerns was loose bricks which were in danger of falling on passersby.

In October, Judge Joseph Kainrad approved an agreement requiring Bujack to make temporary repairs on the building to make it safe in the short term, including anchoring the brick facade to the wall surface, repairs to the sandstone parapet and to a portion of the structure that had been struck by lightening.

The top three floors of the building were condemned by the city as uninhabitable in 1979.

On March 23, Greg Vilk, who owned the only businesses in the structure, auctioned the contents of the Cornerstone Cafe, Mooney's Goose and Club Y2K, which had been on the lower level of the structure. Vilk said he planned to reopen Mooney's Goose within a few weeks at the same location.

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