Exploring The Abandoned Ramada Plaza
A spontaneous explore of a trashed hotel in Columbus OH now destined for renovation.
Late in the year I was working a multiple-week long event in Columbus Ohio.
On the first day I was heading to the event I noticed an amazing place off the side of the highway. It was a big abandoned hotel with multiple buildings. It had lots of graffiti and broken glass, and was obviously fairly easy to get in to. I kept passing it twice a day, on the way to and back from work. It took several days to get off with enough daylight to explore, and I kept thinking about it.
The first time I headed into the building I almost immediately ran into another person (@harrisonveach). He was a local who lived nearby and wanted to check out the structure as well. We chatted for a minute and then split up.
We parted ways for a bit and I started to search around the first floor, my priority being the pool. As I was looking around I ran into more people. I was confused at first and thought it was the same guy as before, but then a second guy also came down the stairs behind the first person I saw. They saw me and we both stopped. They had a can of spray paint in their hands.
“What’re you doing, taking photos?” They asked.
“Yeah” I replied
“You here illegally then?”
“Is there any way to get in legally?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but we won’t say anything if you won’t.”
“Fine with me.” I responded.
They took off running down the hall, spraying quick tags on the walls as they left.
A couple minutes later I found the pool, and the original guy I had seen was in there. I warned him about the taggers and we checked out the pool and made our way into the basement, which had large conference room and a big kitchen and service area. We didn’t have a lot of light so we eventually said goodbye and left for the night.
I ended up managing to get to the hotel for 4 quick visits, and the video is from the longest trip where my goal was to get onto the roof.
On another visit, as I was about to get out of the car, another car slowly drove through the parking lot around my car and then parked across the street.
I sat there and stared at the car, waiting for them to do something. I assumed they were exploring like I was. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed some movement. I turned and a kid was coming toward the car out of the hotel, seemingly trying to get my attention. I got out to see what was up.
He asked me if I was a security guard, and once I confirmed I wasn’t he told his friends across the street it was cool to head in.
This hotel was built in 1971 as a Scot’s Inn. It has had multiple owners and names over its lifetime.
It has one 6 story and 5 story building, which both house the 264 rooms (250 traditional, 12 suites and 4 hospitality rooms). A third attached building has the lobby, offices, and most of the amenities. The hotel had an indoor pool with poolside Jacuzzi, an outdoor pool, Justin’s Place restaurant, Bowties Bar & Lounge (or Bowties Dance-Drinkery), a 12,000-square-foot grand ballroom, 5 elevators, 24,000-square-foot meeting space in the form of a conference center with 23 meeting rooms, business center, and a fitness center. It was last renovated in 2009. The 183,000-square-foot building sits on 6.85 acres of land with 486 parking spaces. One of the big sells was it’s budget friendly conference and event hosting. Rates range around $60 to $90 a night for a room. It was also pet friendly which attracted certain types of events.
The Radisson Hotel Columbus North became Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in March 2000, along with major renovations. Hotel Investments I LLC purchased the property in October 2007 for $3.7 million. Central Bank & Trust Co. foreclosed the property in April 2011 with previous owner, Hotel Investment, owing $6.4 million on a $6.5 million acquisition-and-renovation loan after 2 extensions. It was put under the management of a court-appointed receiver for 2 years until Indonesia-based Pacific Rim Development LLC purchased the hotel for $2.7 million in December 2013, with a $1.78 million mortgage from Central Bank & Trust Co. It was their first U.S. investment and they planned on putting in $1.5 million in improvements and remodeling.
The hotel started to get worse and worse. Management allegedly would give the excuse of renovations occurring for the multitude of problems that started to arise. Before they finally closed for good, one of the kitchens was closed from the state fire marshal because of concerns about the fire suppression system. There were reports and reviews complaining of exposed wiring in the kitchen, moldy ceiling tiles, bedbugs, no heat / AC in the rooms and lobby, faulty internet and TV, broken elevators, broken pool heating, and more. Many online reviews complained about flooding or dampness in rooms.
It abruptly closed in February 2015 due to water damage, and heating and sewer problems. The hotel gave no warning when it closes, and didn’t communicate effectively, saying it would be a ‘temporary closure’ and leaving many in the dark. Many people were forced to reschedule events or rooms last minute. The hotel had catered to events and groups that couldn’t afford higher priced hotels and conference spaces.
The property then went into bankruptcy court, and that caused a delay on the maintenance, clean up, or sale of the building. Pacific Rim Development LLC were also sued by Ramada in late 2015, and Ramada was awarded a judgement of $810,322.64. The property got heavily vandalized over the next couple years. Lots of copper and wiring is stripped, there is pervasive rot and mold, broken glass, lots of graffiti, and plenty of leftover trash and property from when the hotel was in operation. On September 4th 2017 there was a fire at this hotel. It was mainly contained to one room on the fifth floor, but a firefighter was injured fighting the fire and required stitches. The cause of the fire was considered suspicious in nature.
The hotel was scheduled for bankruptcy auction in October 2017. The minimum (all cash) bid was $1.6 million, and bidders were required a $20,000 deposit of cash or performance bond to register their place at the auction. There was a possible plan of renovating it into senior living space, and a company even made an offer of $1.6 million for the hotel.
But ultimately the new owner of this building is Uhaul, which spent $1.75 million to acquire it. They plan to renovate the existing structure and turn it into multistory full service storage facility. It was estimated to cost at least $600,000 to reopen as a hotel in mid 2016. No timeline has been set for the renovation, but Uhaul said a temporary showroom will be set up at the location. This is their first time reusing a hotel. The facility will be called “U-Haul Moving & Storage of Northland.”
There now is a security guard patrolling the property.