The owner of the Ramada Plaza in downtown Macon said hot water problems and aging pipes caused the hotel’s closure Tuesday.

Owner Dr. Gunwant Dhaliwal of New Port Richey, Fla., who took ownership of the hotel last year, said in an e-mail to The Telegraph, “I can assure that Ramada Plaza will be open in next couple of months after replacement of the boiler and piping. I have already invested quite a lot in the property.”

WOODY MARSHALL/THE TELEGRAPH The Ramada Plaza on First Street is closed for repairs.

Dhaliwal purchased the hotel at 108 First St. out of foreclosure with his Florida-based Gsd Investment group for $1.9 million.

Dhaliwal said the building’s 40-year-old boiler has to be changed, which will cost $300,000. All of the old pipes in the 16-floor hotel are “recommended” to be changed, costing another $800,000, he said. Dhaliwal said he has a list of future reservations and will be sending refund checks to paid guests before the end of this month, his e-mail stated. “If any of the guests are anxious and want their deposit now they can fax the request to (727) 844-5553. Same is true for any bills that are pending,” Dhaliwal’s e-mail said.

Macon Mayor Robert Reichert said he’s concerned about the impact the closure could have on tourism.

“I’m very distressed it apparently closed for the indefinite future,” he said Wednesday. “I hope it comes back online, and they’re able to invest in the immediate needs and bring it up to a level we can be proud of.

“It will be missed, in part, because of the number of rooms,” Reichert said. “It was half of the rooms in the downtown area. Other than the Ramada Plaza and the Marriott, you have to go to Riverside (Drive) or Arkwright (Road).”

The Ramada Plaza has 298 rooms, and the Macon Marriott City Center, 240 Coliseum Drive, has 220 rooms.

Monica Smith, president/CEO of the Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the group is working with Ramada staff to place groups and people who have reservations there.

“At this point we’re telling them the hotel is closed for renovation, and we’re asking them if they need help finding alternate arrangements,” she said.

“I do have some concerns that we may have groups we can’t accommodate if other hotels are booked,” Smith said. “A major hotel (that is closed) downtown could impact tourism. The other hotel partners have been very responsive to help place displaced guests.”

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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