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From landmark to eyesore and back to landmark (maybe)

  • The Palace Hotel in downtown Ukiah, pictured here in 2005, is under renovation to try and rehabilitate the decaying structure. (Press Democrat file photo)

The owners of the historic Palace Hotel have begun initial work on the decaying building in preparation of getting permits to rehabilitate the vine-covered landmark that has become an eyesore in the center of Ukiah.

Theyve sealed the leaking roof and ensured that lights and the fire sprinkler system are operational, said Joy Beeler, director of the Ukiah Main Street Program.

Theyve done a lot of work, she said.

The owners, Marin County real estate agents Eladia Laines and Mike Leddy, announced in 2007 they hoped to transform the derelict hotel into retail shops and condominiums and that remains their goal, Beeler said.

Laines and Leddy will have an open house for area residents in their construction office located next door to the Palace at 5 p.m. March 6, she said. The hotel cannot be toured, but preliminary rehabilitation plans for the building will be available, Beeler said.

The owners could not be reached for comment Friday and its not known whether they have financial backing or the funds to do the work themselves.

I cant say. Thats their personal business, Beeler said.

The couple has owned the building since 1990, when it was purchased for $115,000. At the time they said they planned to revamp and reopen the hotel, which had most recently been operated as a restaurant and bar.

They added some paint, fixed the leaking roof and boarded up the broken windows. Little else was done until the recent repairs.

It became a home to pigeons and a challenge for teenagers, who regularly scaled and broke into the building.

The hotel was on the market for some time, but the $1.2 million price tag proved too much for a building that had fallen into such a state of disrepair that it was deemed worthless in a 2006 audit conducted by the city of Ukiah.

It was appraised at that time at $309,000, the value of the land alone.

A 2001 study commissioned by the city said it would cost nearly $5 million to rehabilitate the hotel and nearly the same amount to tear it down.

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