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Pittsburgh foundation controls Bedford Springs Hotel’s future

By Ron DaParma
Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation is playing a key role in a $90 million renovation and expansion of the historic Bedford Springs Hotel in Bedford County.

The preservationist organization on Pittsburgh’s South Side, which for more than 15 years has been concerned about the fate of the landmark property, has accepted the donation of a conservation easement that ensures preservation of historic elements of the 200-year-old hotel.

“This is an extremely important project as a jobs generator and for economic development in Bedford County,” Arthur P. Ziegler Jr., the foundation’s president, said Tuesday. “In addition, it enables a major historic complex to be restored and go back into service.”

The foundation’s easement allows it to monitor redevelopment of the hotel and “protects the elaborate wooden gingerbread porches on the guest wings and the Greek Revival central building dating from 1829-42.” In addition, it protects an indoor swimming pool wing and a historic golf course.

The Bedford County hotel, whose earliest buildings date to 1806, in former times of elegance served as the summer White House for Pennsylvania’s only native-born president, James Buchanan.

The property, about 100 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, has been closed since 1990. Since then, several plans to resurrect the hotel failed for varied reasons.

But now the easement and historic tax credits available for the renovation are part of a financing plan that helped Bedford Resort Partners Ltd., a group headed by Texas developer Mark Langdale, to proceed.

The credits and tax deductions available through the easement are expected to cover about $19.5 million of the development costs for the project, which is expected to be completed in 2007. As previously reported, the state is providing $24.9 million in redevelopment grants plus a separate $2 million infrastructure grant.

Minneapolis-based investment banker The Marshall Group has put together a consortium of banks for a $38.7 million first mortgage on the property, with Langdale putting in $4.4 million.

Two other important players are Thistle Financial Group, a Westmoreland County-based company that is providing bridge financing, and The Ferchill Group, a Cleveland-based developer that has expertise in similar historic preservation projects.

Landmarks also cooperated with Ferchill in securing easements and tax credits that helped develop the Heinz Lofts luxury apartment complex on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

Ron DaParma can be reached at or 412-320-7907.

This article appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review © Pittsburgh Tribune Review

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