A pair of local hotel owners have expanded their business and are ready to put their expertise to work at another historic hotel in the Capital City.
Dr. Ravi Puri and son Vivek, the father-son duo Puri Group, along with parent company Oracle Enterprise, became the new owners of Jefferson City's Truman Hotel and Conference Center on July 1.
The Puris purchased the iconic hotel with one main goal - preservation.
"The initial goal is to do what we've done here (at the DoubleTree)," Dr. Puri said.
"What comes down the pipeline remains to be seen," Vivek added.
Puri Group owns several other hotels throughout Jefferson City and Columbia, including the historic DoubleTree overlooking the Capital City. When the pair purchased the hotel, then a Quality Inn, in September 2005, they set out to maintain the history behind the building. A year into ownership, they began a complete overhaul, renovating the entire hotel and making it what it is today.
The Puris said little will change at Truman Hotel as they aren't in any hurry. The new owners plan to evaluate the business, see what works and what doesn't, and make changes as they see needs arise.
"Improvements will be made," Dr. Puri noted. "We'll give it a new and fresh appearance, beautify the rooms."
Their overall goal, however, is to keep the hotel running, bring it up to their standards in both service and design, and maintain the business as a staple on Highway 54.
"What we have purchased, the design can be maintained," Vivek explained. But, the product will be brought to higher standards, he said.
In an effort to keep the history, the Puris will not rename the local hotel. Vivek said an affiliate, such as Hilton, will not be made unless needed in the future.
The business owners want to see the hotel "continue to be a part of the Jefferson City scape," Vivek explained.
The Puris said they did not seek out the purchase, but instead were approached by the former owners, St. Louis attorneys Christian Peper Jr. and Rex Bertram and the hotel brokerage Leisure Real Estate Advisors. Managing Partner Brent Jaynes confirmed the property's pending sale as was previously reported.
"The future was bleak," Vivek said of Truman Hotel. He noted that to see such a history of Jefferson City to be closed or boarded up would be devastating to the community. "If we can save that, then it is our moral obligation to do so."
"In life, money is not everything. You have to do something for the community," Dr. Puri said of the recent purchase.
With the change in ownership, the Puris have offered any current employees the option to stay with the hotel with no change to their wages. The Puris now employ more than 200 employees in Jefferson City alone.
The Puris said they're excited to continue to invest in the community, and hope people understand that.
The sale includes the 233-room hotel and 24,000 square feet of meeting space in 14 different rooms, as well as the 9-acre lot fronting U.S. 54. The hotel's restaurant, Bingham's, was also a part of the purchase, and will remain in operation, keeping the Bingham name and displayed history.
Truman Hotel had an assessed value of $4 million in 2012, but the asking price for the property was reduced from $1.95 million to $1.775 million just a few months ago. The Puris did not release the final purchase price.
Puri Group did not purchase the second-run movie theater, Truman 4 Theaters, which remains for sale and ceased operations on June 30.
Vivek noted that he and his father would, of course, like to see that property be maintained as a theater and keep the tradition that has been so rich in the past.