Lick resort owner
high bidder for Hillside Inn
MADISON, Ind. (December 1999) Tom and Patricia Thomassen spent
10 years working to make a profitable living as owners of the Hillside
On Nov. 4, it took only 20 minutes to auction it off to the highest
bidder in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court-ordered sale.
by Don Ward
Fuhs, who purchesed
the Hillside Inn
during the Nov. 4 auction.
Resort owner Jerry Fuhs of French Lick, Ind., outbid Joyce
Atwood of Vevay, Ind., for what many consider a historic property perched
on the hillside overlooking downtown Madison and the Ohio River valley.
Fuhs paid $480,000 for the 29-room hotel, its contents, the adjacent
private residence and 11 acres, plus a $48,000 buyer's premium to cover
sale costs. He put 15 percent down with 30 days until closing, at which
time he would pay the balance and take possession of the property. The
sale had no contingencies other than final approval by the federal bankruptcy
court judge, which real estate officials considered a formality.
Fuhs said he plans to "totally renovate" the hotel and eventually
re-open the restaurant on the main floor.
But before he does anything, he wants to hold a meeting in Madison to
solicit input from local residents on what they would like to see done
with the Hillside Inn. He asked Madison Area Convention and Visitors
Bureau director Linda Lytle to help arrange the meeting, which he termed
a "needs assessment."
"I think we should find out what the people in the community want
before we do anything," said Fuhs, 46, a motor fuel and sales tax
consultant who owns the Beechwood Mansion in French Lick and Baymont
Inn in Dale, Ind.
"If it weren't for the history associated with this place, we probably
wouldn't have been as interested."
More than 50 people watched as Fuhs and Atwood entered a bidding war
after other bidders gave up around $400,000. Atwood said she had planned
to stop bidding at $450,000 but continued up to $479,000 before conceding
Atwood, who has no prior hotel experience, said, "I just thought
someone needed to buy it and keep it open as a hotel because it has
so much history."
She joked that when she reached her limit, she considered asking the
crowd for donations.
Dean Ford of Madison also entered the bidding early but stopped well
short of $400,000.
Tom Thomassen watched the auction from the back of the crowd and spoke
briefly with Fuhs following the sale. Thomassen said preparing for the
auction was "a chore" and added he was glad to get it behind
him. "It was always there hanging over our heads," he said.
Thomassen's wife did not attend the auction.
Vevay resident Muhamed M. Moussa, the winning bidder in the first auction
at $440,000, failed to come up with the earnest money deposit of $66,000,
forcing a second auction.
Fuhs said he would have bought the Hillside Inn at the first bankruptcy
auction in June had he known about it. He only learned of the second
auction nine days before.
Tom Richardson, Fuhs' director of operations for his other resort properties,
will direct the renovation project, Fuhs said.
"We think this hotel has great potential and we're excited to be
here," Richardson said.
Fuhs, who formed his Jasper-based National Energy Control Services company
17 years ago, isn't rushing into anything with his new purchase. The
day after the auction, he left for a 15-day vacation to Maui, Hawaii.
Back to December 1999