Old Ohio basket company headquarters to become luxury hotel

An Ohio property developer has boldly placed his eggs in one huge basket, revealing plans to renovate and reopen the quirky, seven-story Longaberger basket building, once home to the defunct company’s headquarters, as a luxury hotel.

On Monday night, Steve Coon of Coon Restoration and Sealants announced plans to transform the interiors of Longaberger Basket company’s former HQ into a hotel boasting 150 rooms, an indoor pool and a restaurant, the Newark Advocate reports. The yet-unnamed hotel is scheduled to open in 2020, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

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“It’s an iconic building. To be put back into use would put a tremendous asset back into the community,” State Sen. Jay Hottinger (R-Newark), said of the “exciting news.”

Former Longaberger CEO Dave DeFeo stands in front of the Longaberger building in 2005 in Newark, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Former Longaberger CEO Dave DeFeo stands in front of the Longaberger building in 2005 in Newark, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Hotel owner and operator Ceres Enterprises and Sandvick Architects joined Coon in making the announcement.

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The Newark-area building, known as the “Big Basket,” is a seven-story replica of the company’s medium market basket.

Longaberger opened the central Ohio building in 1997. The company successfully sold handcrafted baskets for years until going out of business in 2018. The old headquarters — complete with the brand’s signature gold-leaf tags on its side — has been vacant since 2016.

"It's a majestic, one-of-a kind architectural gem," Jonathan Sandvick, president of Sandvick Architects, told the Advocate of the special site. "It's an honor to be working together to bring this wonderful place back to its glory."

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Coon and business partner Bobby George bought the woven-style building for $1.2 million in December 2017 — a sliver of the $30 million it cost to construct in the late 1990s during the basket maker’s “glory days,” per the outlet.

"This will stay a basket. It's going to be a basket forever. It's got the draw. This is a destination,” Coon told the Advocate of plans for the space, adding that he hopes to draw crowds from the nearby Denison and Columbus areas for weddings and business conferences.

Newark Mayor Jeff Hall said he was glad that the developers did not plan to alter the unique building’s exterior structure.

"It's about a building that deserves the respect,” Hall told the Advocate. "A hotel is a perfect fit because it's open to the public. Dave Longaberger would be happy with that. It's the right people and the right property. These guys are not in the business of losing money."

Coon also emphasized that he envisions a renovation that allows the building’s original charm to shine through.

“Believe it or not, it’s historic. It’s the only basket [of its kind] in the world,” he mused.

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Longaberger's CEO, Dave Longaberger, passed away in 1999, and his company “financially unraveled” in the years that followed, the Dispatch reports.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.