SALEM - Local businessman Brooke Pidgeon has the keys to the Timberlanes Motor Inn and Restaurant.
And while he would not commit to even getting close to an opening date, he said getting the motel up and running as soon as possible was his immediate focus.
Pidgeon closed the deal for Timberlanes LLC, located at 544 E. Pershing St., last week.
Current work centers on giving the facility a top-to-bottom cleaning and update.
"I've been working on it for a little while," Pidgeon said Tuesday, noting his family has run businesses in Salem for almost 100 years.
"It will be locally owned and operated," he said, adding he was hopeful the community will support the business.
Mayor John Berlin was "thrilled" to hear that "a local businessman from a successful business family bought it."
Berlin added, "He's grounded in this community ... that's wonderful news ... whatever they plan I hope it's a great success."
Audrey Null, executive director of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, said, "The Salem chamber is very pleased at the release of the liens on the Timberlanes property and it will now be freed up for redevelopment.
"There's a serious need for banquet facilities and hotel accommodations in Salem and Timberlanes served as an anchor to a great deal of economic activity for many years, especially for the downtown area business district."
The chamber is anxious to serve the investors, she said.
Pidgeon, 41, declined commenting on the price other than to say, "Taxes were pretty much the cost of it."
He said he "watched and saw what was going on and talked to (realtor) Bruce Capel until the opportunity came around."
According to the county auditor the two properties (a parking lot on Penn Ave.) have a combined improved market value of $1.65 million, but were sold during a sheriff's auction for $667,333 in March of 2011 to Pennsylvania restaurateur Carl Baker's Unique Ventures company.
Since then the Salem landmark has been involved in string of legal actions and appeals.
Pidgeon said, "The price was reasonable because there's an investment."
The restaurant and lounge right under the motel are priorities and he noted.
"I know there's a tremendous need for the banquet facility (too)," he said adding, "the building will get a bath from top to bottom," including a new roof and boiler as part of the "substantial investment that needs to be made immediately ... it needs to be zipped up."
The rooms are being cleaned and floors waxed, Pidgeon said adding, "I don't have any plans to change the infrastructure at all."
The rooms, about 60 of them will be "entirely updated" with flat-screen televisions, Wi-Fi and made more efficient.
The reason he stepped in and made the purchase was because "I was born and raised here and saw that building for many years," adding he was a customer.
"The opportunity came to salvage it and I was certainly willing to listen. It's going to be a long-term investment. People obviously want to see it come back. It needs polished. This is a good place to spend your money," he said, adding, "it's dated, it needs to be updated ... it won't take another winter."
Bill Cartwright, who owns the Fun Factory next door said he was happy "somebody's taken an interest in the building."
Lifelong city resident Doug Moffett said, "I think it's great to have a local person from a reputable business family own and operate it."
At one time a major player in the shale boom was interested in buying the business and Pidgeon said, "I did not buy this place to capitalize on the oil boom, but there's an opportunity for a restaurateur to take advantage of the oil boom."
Last week, Columbiana County Common Please Court Judge Scott Washam ruled on the sale of the property that had federal tax liens that were released from the property record.
The county clerk of courts will receive $2,071 and the county treasurer will receive $122,563 for taxes owed on the property.
The judgment included the release of previous mortgages and lawsuits against the Timberlanes, including two filed by the the state Department of Taxation, several by the Bureau of Workers Compensation and unemployment claims by the Department of Job and Family Services.
Considered a Salem landmark, Timberlanes was opened in 1962 and closed its doors in January 2009 after being in placed in receivership.
Larry Shields can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org