The 85-year-old Hotel Petaluma is now in the hands of a Marin County contractor with a track record of restoring historic properties.
Robert Miller of San Anselmo purchased the four-story Washington Street building for $6.1 million from businessmen John Jernigan and Jim Maestretti, who have owned the hotel since 1994.
Jernigan said recent negotiations with a different potential buyer, who wanted to convert it to a boutique hotel, got the pair thinking the time was right to sell the property.
It takes a lot of energy to run that place, he said.
The purchase by Miller became official Dec. 1, and the new owner said hes planning some upgrades to the lower facade of the building.
It seems like over the years, its gotten kind of hodge-podged, Miller said.
Hes also planning to replace the catering service, which is leaving, with a new eatery on the Kentucky Street side of the building.
Id love to get a really nice restaurant in there, he said of the banquet room space.
Miller said he doesnt plan to change the long-term rentals offered at the hotel, which provide affordable downtown living in the buildings 104 rooms.
Were planning on running that the way its been run, he said.
Miller said hes unexpectedly battling others long-held negative perceptions of the hotel that its a haven for drug use, vagrants and other problems.
That wrong impression is the biggest thing Im fighting right now, he said. It is really clean inside, well-lighted. Its in pretty good shape.
Miller, a general contractor who owns USA Construction, owns the former Lincoln Primary School building at Fifth and B streets in Petaluma, as well as older buildings on Petaluma Boulevard North and Water Street.
He also helped restore the former Penngrove Hatchery on Old Redwood Highway.
The Hotel Petaluma intrigued him because of the character of the building, he said.
(Contact Corey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org)