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Hotel Putnam concept image
GRAPHIC COURTESY CITY OF DELAND A CONCEPT — This concept sketch for redevelopment of the Hotel Putnam was presented Sept. 2 by an Axia Partners representative to the DeLand Historic Preservation Board. Axia Partners closed on a purchase of the hotel today, seller Mohamed Rashad said.

Hotel Putnam owner Mohamed Rashad confirmed this afternoon that he closed today on a sale of the historic hotel to Axia Partners.

Rashad, who had owned the Hotel Putnam since 2018, said the sale was “bittersweet.” Rashad has struggled with City of DeLand building regulations and requirements in his effort to restore the Putnam to glory.

The purchase price was $2.325 million, Rashad said.

Jeremy Long of Axia said the firm is happy to be working in a city “full of amazing people,” as they’ve found DeLand to be.

Rashad said he loves the hotel, and had hoped to realize his dream of building apartments there, but didn’t see how he could progress, given his strained relationship with city development officials.

For their part, city officials said Rashad did work on the hotel without permits. The Putnam has been gutted, with nonstructural walls, plumbing and wiring removed.

With the sale, a new chapter opens.

“​​I am hopeful for them to finish it and bring it back to its glory days,” Rashad said.

Long, a general partner of Axia, said the firm has also caught the “love” for the storied hotel.

“It has our hearts already, too,” he said of the firm’s five general partners. “We are very excited about this project.”

According to the company’s website at www.axiapartners.com, the company’s “unique approach identifies real estate opportunities that have not previously been positioned correctly to maximize income potential and capture competitive disposition valuations.”

An Axia Partners construction-management representative attended the Sept. 2 meeting of the DeLand Historic Preservation Board, to show a concept sketch for the hotel’s renovation, which also envisions building residential apartments.

Hotel Putnam and Mohamed Rashad
BEACON PHOTO/BARB SHEPHERD
NEW OWNERS, AGAIN — Mohamed Rashad, at right, and his architect stand in front of the Hotel Putnam this summer. Rashad confirmed today that he has sold the hotel to Axia Partners.

Frantz Ostmann, who said he is a member of the project-management team for Axia’s development projects east of the Mississippi River, told the Historic Preservation Board his team has done “extensive research” on the history of the building.

Historic Preservation Board members emphasized that they will be expecting the historic character of the hotel’s exterior to be preserved.

DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus said Friday evening that he didn’t yet have independent confirmation that the sale of the hotel had closed, but that he was hopeful for the landmark’s future with Axia Partners.

“Assuming they went forward with it, we are excited about their project and look forward to helping them get started on the renovations,” Pleus said.

DeLand Community Development Director Rick Werbiskis said the city is ready to work with new owners.

“The staff is ready to provide the same level of professional support and guidance through the review and permitting process as they have to Big Bubba Investments LLC [Rashad’s company],” Werbiskis said.

He added, “The reincarnation of the Hotel Putnam has been a longstanding goal of the city and we envision the property providing an anchor expanding the footprint of our vibrant Downtown.”

The overall project, Ostmann said, would likely take two years to complete. His goal is to ensure the Hotel Putnam is open for business 100 years after it first opened its doors in 1923.

Asked why he thinks his firm can pull off the renovation when so many others have not, Long, of Axia, said, “Honestly, we don’t pay much attention to what others may or may not have done before us. We are very confident in our process. … We have zero concerns about our ability to get things done.”

A big part of the company’s due diligence leading up to the purchase, Long said, was determining whether there is local support for the renovation.

“And it became clear quickly that the answer to that question was a resounding yes! Everyone we’ve worked with so far in the town has been attentive and thorough in their assistance, and they’re just all-around good people. And, honestly, what’s more fun than partnering on a historical renovation project with a city that’s full of amazing people?”

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