The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

September 26, 2007

New Schumacher's owner has grand plans

New Prague landmark has been closed since 2005

NEW PRAGUE — Caroline Amplatz is going through a divorce while raising three kids.

So what better time to buy an old hotel and give it a seven-figure face-lift?

“It just feels right. This is what I was born to do,” the Golden Valley resident says. “It was this building or nothing.”

Last week, Amplatz was the winning bidder at an auction of the historic Schumacher’s New Prague Hotel, which has been closed since 2005.

She paid $360,000 for it, and says that’s only the start, because renovation awaits.

“Knowing me, I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up spending $1 million before I’m done.”

Amplatz’s plans are grand and grander. She speaks of wine cellars and guest-room decor in differing European themes, of walls knocked out and carpeting pulled up, of woodwork restored and total gutting of the kitchen.

Not to mention the late Princess Diana’s butler.

Apparently, he markets his own line of furniture these days, which Amplatz plans to liberally sprinkle throughout.

“This project has a life of its own. It’s all about the building,” she says.

“But this is not going to be a 24/7 hotel, nor a full-service restaurant. It’s going to be affordable and accessible to everyone. And kids will be welcome here.”

The hotel, built in 1898, was purchased for $3,000 in 1974 by John Schumacher, who poured about $500,000 into it while making a name as a wild game chef and restaurateur.

But when the business entered a downturn several years ago, he began making plans to sell.

In 2005, a sales deal fell through, and at an auction earlier this summer, no bids met his minimum of nearly $800,000.

At the most recent auction, the ground rules were simple: No minimum bid; highest bid takes it.

Amplatz went against one other bidder, who stopped at $350,000.

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