Retlaw Plaza Hotel closes unexpectedly

Retlaw Hotel (WLUK/Mike Moon)

A historic Fond du Lac hotel has suddenly closed its doors. That's left dozens of people without jobs.. and others scrambling to re-book events.

Although the 91-year-old Retlaw Plaza Hotel has had plenty of problems lately, the suddenly closure has left some surprised.

Signs in the Retlaw Plaza Hotel doorway read closed.

Fond du Lac City leaders told FOX 11 it's a shock.

"As a matter of fact, I don't think the employees knew yesterday was going to be the day," said city manager Joseph Moore.

"We've known for a short period of time that this was going to happen, but this is rather abrupt and sooner than we were expecting," added Amy Hansen, executive director of the Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership.

Moore told us Wednesday evening the hotel shut down operations. He said although the hotel has been in financial trouble recently, the plan was to try to keep it running through the holidays.

"About two months ago a local judge approved a receiver at the request of the bank that holds the mortgage," Moore explained.

A receiver is a person, in this case a lawyer, who takes over responsibility for a property from the owner.

That receiver hired a new management firm for the Retlaw.

But the Moore told FOX 11 the hotel is in debt to the city for unpaid taxes and utility bills, and is also in need of upgrades.

"They have struggled, I think, to generate the business they wanted to generate to justify some of the investment in repairs and improvements," he explained.

We reached out to the hotel manager and the attorney acting as the receiver for more information, but we did not hear back.

The Retlaw was built in the 1920's and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hansen told us it's a significant element of the city's past and future.

"The hotel is very important to downtown. We obviously need the customer traffic, the overnight stays, the banquets, the wedding receptions," she explained.

But now those wedding receptions have to be re-booked, and former employees have to find new jobs.

"It's terrible to see right before the holidays. So we wish them the best," said Hansen.

The Retlaw had gone up for auction in November 2014, with no luck.

City leaders are now working to find a new developer to invest in the hotel.

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