Friday, November 1, 2013

The American Arms

A couple of blocks down on Frankfurter strasse in Wiesbaden....just five minutes walk from downtown the old American Arms Hotel.

For decades, it was the US Army hotel in Wiesbaden and thousands of folks traveled through the region and stayed a night or two at the hotel.  Some spent a month or two....waiting for an on-post apartment.

I spent three visits at the hotel, and always rated it as a decent place.  After 9-11, they pumped up security and it became more of a problem to use or even think about parking near.

A couple of years ago, the Army got funding and built an entirely new hotel on post.  The American Arms?  Quietly shut down, and the work is in progress to turn the property over to the Germans.

I passed by the site yesterday and spent a few minutes gazing over the old building.  The grounds?  Kept in decent condition and regularly cut grass.  The building itself?  I'd say it needs some maintenance but it's probably an easy building to work up and develop.

The question is....what would the Germans do with the grounds?  Level the entire building and sell off the real estate?  It's possible....but this is a multi-million Euro street.  Every house is well over a hundred years old and prime real estate.  Fixing it as an affordable apartment building?  It'd be into the tens of millions to upgrade it for German satisfaction.

It's more or less a legacy to this era where Americans were a major part of the city of Wiesbaden.....when times were better and we were good neighbors.

My fondest memory of the hotel?  I had to attend some conference in the mid-80s and around midnight....some idiot called a bomb threat into the hotel.  Within twenty minutes we were all dragged out in the middle of some winter night to stand there in freezing weather.  Ten minutes later, German buses from the city started to show up and everyone piled on and stayed warm for an hour while a team checked the building.  The city never charged for the service, as far as I knew, and did it as a practical good-neighbor policy.

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