Lighthouse Inn sells at auction to owner with plans to reopen inn
New London — The storied Lighthouse Inn has a new owner who plans to restore and reopen the inn.
Alwyn Christy of Glastonbury, who said he is the former chief executive officer of a private security and risk-mitigation company in eastern Africa, emerged as the high bidder for the city-owned property at an auction Wednesday at City Hall.
Christy, in a four-way bidding contest watched by a crowd of about 50 people, won the property with a high bid of $260,000. His closest competition came from Louis Linares and his son, state Sen. Art Linares, R-Westbrook.
When asked about his plans, Christy said he and members of a team will take a closer look at their options in the coming weeks but reopening the inn was their first thought in buying the property.
“It’s certainly going to be an inn. We’re pretty confident of that,” Christy said.
Christy accepted handshakes from city councilors, bystanders and Mayor Michael Passero, who told Christy, “you’re going to make a lot of people happy.”
The purchase comes three years after the city acquired the vacant property at a tax auction and several failed attempts to attract a developer. The Lighthouse Inn, at 48 Guthrie Place, closed abruptly in 2008.
The city initially had sought a developer with the financial wherewithal to restore and reopen the inn — which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The most recent plan for the property came from Michael Dattilo, owner of the Water’s Edge Resort & Spa in Westbrook, who had proposed a multimillion-dollar restoration of the inn and construction of townhouses on the 4.2-acre property.
Dattilo had said he was never able to reach a deal for rights to the nearby Guthrie Beach, an integral part of his plan. He never signed a development agreement with the city.
With the property becoming unmanageable and buildings falling further into disrepair, the city decided it was time to shift it into private hands.
The city enlisted JJ Manning Auctioneers to auction the property. The first bid on Wednesday came in at $20,000 and, with occasional friendly nudges from auctioneer Justin J. Manning, president of the company, the price rose steadily in $10,000 increments.
The closing on the property will take place on or before Nov. 18, or 45 days from the auction, as mandated by the contract signed with registration. The buyer also agreed to pay 10 percent premium to the auctioneer and showed up to the auction with a $20,000 deposit.
At its current assessment of $1.6 million, the property should bring in about $67,000 annually in tax revenues.
Christy declined to reveal any more about his plans or a timeline for work, but smiled and said, “It will be something good for the city of New London.”