The hotel, convention center and Coco Key water park northeast of 72nd and Grover Streets — once the site of Warren Buffett’s shareholder meetings, Omaha Press Club gridiron shows and gatherings of all sorts — is burdened by $1.6 million in unpaid property taxes and contractors’ bills.
That’s on top of $28.9 million in debt on the property itself, according to Douglas County records.
The hotel rooms, water park and meeting rooms are open for business under new management, but Omaha’s Lund Co. lists the hotel for sale at $35,550,000, an amount that would cover the loans, taxes and unpaid bills. The sales pitch says the 18-acre property, with a combined 500 hotel rooms, is “ideal for redevelopment or a new hotel flag and management.”
On a recent afternoon, families were checking in at the front desk, apparently headed for the water park, and one of the meeting rooms was set up for a banquet.
The property, built in 1967 and for many years a Holiday Inn, is valued at $24 million for tax purposes and recently operated under the Hotel RL brand of the Red Lion hotel group. It’s also the subject of lawsuits between the current and former owners over finances and operating practices.
Fabric covering the property’s exterior signs says it’s now called the Coco Key Hotel & Convention Center.
Mario Mandolfo, general manager of the hotel, said an agreement is in place to rebrand the hotel as Ramada Plaza by Windham Omaha starting next week, including connecting to Ramada's reservation system.
The former Baymont Inn, just north of the main building, is closed and has a “no trespassing” sign on the door, along with a notice from the Nebraska Department of Labor that its elevator permit has expired. That building carries a $2,350,000 price tag if sold separately, and another part of the hotel property is priced at $7.7 million.
County records show 13 contractors’ liens against the property totaling $513,000 for tiling, water park repairs, painting, concrete, flooring, fire alarms and sprinklers, doors, electric systems and other work. Contractors who aren’t paid for their work can file liens against real estate and are to be paid before properties are sold or refinanced.
A contractor’s lien was filed in January 2017 by Airtech Service Inc. President Harry Tkaczuk said the hotel hasn’t paid $44,257 owed for replacing two damaged water boilers in September 2016.
The liens range from $7,170 for concrete supplied by Ready Mixed Concrete Co. to $79,738 owed to Sunbelt Rentals, a Columbus, Ohio, company that leases construction and maintenance equipment.
Property taxes of $518,163 for 2017 are delinquent, the County Assessor’s Office said. An investment group paid the property’s 2016 tax bill of $514,573, plus interest of $54,868. Such tax liens can be considered investments, backed by real estate and accumulating interest until the property owners pay off what’s owed.
The property is owned by Century-Omaha LLC, which in turn is owned by Don and Jeannie Wieseler of Rapid City, South Dakota. Don Wieseler, who has been in real estate development in the Rapid City area since 1965, referred questions to an Omaha attorney, who declined to comment beyond confirming that the Omaha property is open and for sale.
In 2016, Edwin Leslie, president of Leslie Hospitality of Omaha, agreed to buy a majority ownership of the property and planned a $40 million renovation. But since then, lawsuits between Leslie and the Wieselers have disputed the financial arrangements between them and the operation of the property.
The Wieselers regained control of the property in November.