The Parent family has a long history on Lake Wawasee, starting with his parents, particularly his father. According to Parent, his family has been on the lake for 75 years. In addition to having a home on the east end of the lake, his sisters also own homes on Wawasee.
“Our plans for Oakwood are to bring it back to its pinnacle of what it was,” Parent said in a phone interview with The Mail-Journal. He noted the lake and town of Syracuse both needed an economic boost.
“We feel real good about this. The Parents are committed to reopening the hotel and restaurant,” Rolland said. He believes Parent has a common vision of what Howard Brembeck, Oakwood’s patron, envisioned it could become.
Parent credited Rolland with being a big help in the purchase process, stating he “… stands for a lifetime of excellence.”
He said Brad Chambers, president and CEO of Buckingham Co. which initially attempted to purchase the property, has also been a big help, offering to share all that he learned while attempting to purchase the property last year.
“I think Brad’s heart is he wants something positive at Wawasee,” Parent said. “I feel he’s going to do everything he can to make a good, positive result.”
Parent praised Rolland, who will continue working with Parent, saying, “I’m happy to have him on my team.”
Parent outlined the initial plan for the hotel, explaining as soon as the deal is closed on the property, the PIA team will go over to Oakwood and start cleaning. He and his sons have already been in the hotel which is said, “is in great shape” structurally, but carpet and wall treatments will have to be replaced.
J.R. Parent, who is a developer, will be inspecting the roof and some of the trees will be removed to reclaim the view of the lake from the hotel.
The date to reopen the hotel is set for spring 2013.
Parent said the plan is to offer a premiere hotel and restaurant experience. He is in the process of talking to management of several different restaurants within a 50 mile radius of Oakwood.
In the winter, the plan is to market the property for conferences and conventions. According to both Rolland and Parent, Oakwood will still have a liquor license.
The pier issue has also been resolved to the satifaction of Rolland and the Wawase Area Conservancy Foundation. According to WAFC Executive Director Heather Harwood, a settlement agreement was reached with Rolland on Saturday. “We’re glad that Oakwood has a good chance of being revitalized, just not at the expense of the lake,” she said.
Reportedly the agreement is to limit the number of boat slips at Oakwood to 120, but neither Rolland nor the WACF would confirm.
Harwood explained the WACF is now in the process of withdrawing its appeal to the pier permit. “The piers should not be a factor moving forward,” Rolland said.
“For me, it’s a way to give back to something I love,” Parent said of the purchase. “My father was a very good business man. He taught me business principles.”
Rolland wouldn’t say how much the property sold for, but did state there should be enough money to pay off all of the claims. Currently Oakwood’s debt is in excess of $2 million.
Rolland stressed that until Kosciusko Superior Court Judge Duane Huffer approves the purchase agreement it is not a done deal.
For more coverage on this issue, read tomorrow’s issue of The Mail-Journal.