Oakhurst Lodge prepares to reopen

FRESNO, Calif.

The charred remains of the Oakhurst Lodge have become quite an eyesore. But demolition on the landmark has started and the new owners say it signals a new chapter for both the lodge and the community.

Lanie Suderman, the new General Manager of the Oakhurst Lodge, said while she's a new face around the lodge she's not new to Oakhurst. She is an Oakhurst resident and was brought in by the new owners to run the lodge and turn it around.

"They have done all local, local hiring, local vendors, local contractors everything has been local," Suderman said.

The Denver based Providence Hospitality Partners stepped in to run the lodge, months after fire ripped through the landmark building. The fire was ruled accidental and that portion of the property has sat vacant since May, leaving the community, and the tourism industry in limbo.

Rhonda Salisbury, with the Yosemite Sierra Visitors Bureau said, "Oakhurst Lodge is a historical place for us, people love to stay here they come back year after year, they sit out here and watch the talking bear."

The visitor's bureau has been working with the new owners to bring the lodge back to life and back to business.

"Yeah it's sad to lose that façade that we've seen going by every day for 27 years but I can't wait to see what they do with it," Salisbury said.

Local contractor Randy Papike helped remodel the lodge five years ago and is now happy to be a part of its future.

"It's a little sad- seeing this landmark- it's pretty much a landmark, one of the older motels and the original owners were great people," Papike said.

The demolition is expected to be completely done by next week and the rooms available to tourists by November 11.

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