Village Country Inn sold to local buyers

MANCHESTER VILLAGE - The former Village Country Inn, as well as the adjoining property formerly owned by Doctors Mara and John Leibling, was purchased on June 27 by two local residents.

Clark and Lu French, in partnership with the local developer, The Heaton companies, are the new owners of the property occupied by the now-shuttered inn. They purchased the site through a business entity known as 3835 Main Street, LLC, from Florida-based Bay View Loan Servicing LLC. French paid $335,000 for the Inn property and $210,000 for the Leibling property.

The Inn property encompasses 1.38 acres on the western side of the street, and 1.02 acres on the site of the Inn itself; the office makes up the final 1.1 acres purchased for a total of 3.5 acres.

"My wife and I have been residents of the village for 15 years," said Clark French. "We put together a small group of people who felt that there was an opportunity to do something."

The Inn is located in the historic district of the Village, and it was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in February of 1984. The fate of the inn is not a new topic; in November of 2011, Manchester Village's Development Review Board heard a proposal for demolishing the building.

There was concern at the meetings that the only course of action would be demolition, rather than renovation, and that the structure was too insecure after years of standing empty. Mark Woglom, president of Opechee Construction Corporation, said at the time that restoration of the building would have to include stripping the interior down to the frame, and then the frame itself would need work. He called anything other than demolition to potentially be "financially toxic."

At the same meeting, Manchester Fire Chief Phil "Grub" Bourn said that the building was a hazard and deemed it unsafe in its current state; he believed it should be destroyed.

In December of 2011, the board voted 4-3 to demolish the Inn, which would have come at no cost to the Village.

Once it was decided that the building would be demolished, the Village Design Review Board heard a proposal from Manchester Hotel Associates, LLC to build an 80-room Hampton Inn. Despite making multiple changes in their design, including reducing their footprint by making the design shorter in all directions, the board unanimously voted against the proposed hotel design.

"It sat there a long time," said French, "and we just wanted to see something happen."

There are currently no plans from French regarding renovations, usage, or additions to the building. French said that they would have to go through the Design and Development Review Boards first, and they have not yet put in any applications to the boards.

"We are excited about the next chapter of this wonderful Manchester Village site and are looking forward to working with our neighbors on our concept for the property," French said. "In the coming weeks and months we will be sharing our team's plans as part of productive discussions with our Village Board members and trustees to the benefit of the community."

In the original article, John Leibling was incorrectly identified as Mark Leibling. The article has been updated and now reflects the accurate name.


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