Binghamton hotel stages New Year's Eve 'coming out party'

Binghamton, N.Y. — It Tilly Carbo calls Friday's New Year's Eve festivities at the Binghamton Riverwalk Hotel and Conference Center "a coming out party" for the long-troubled downtown hotel.

And about 20 soldiers and their families from Fort Drum will be there to celebrate as guests of the new owner.

The soldiers who have returned home after being deployed to Afghanistan will join 300 to 400 people, who will pay to eat and dance in the ballroom, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Water Street establishment, said Carbo, the hotel's general manager.

Their tab is being picked up by Alfred Weissman, a Westchester County real estate developer who heads the ownership team that took over the former Regency in mid-December.

Weissman is a long-time supporter of the USO. A year ago, he supported a welcome-home party for Fort Drum's 3rd BCT after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.

For the New Year's Eve event, Carbo said Weissman worked with the USO and used a lottery to pick the attendees. The invitations are a way to recognize their military service, she said.

"Let's face it, sometimes they are taken for granted," Carbo said. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the USO.

The bash is an important way to showcase renovations that have already been done to the property, Carbo said. The new owners purchased the hotel from the city for just more than $3.6 million on Dec. 15.

Thursday, workers installed a new sign on the front entrance. The party will take place in a ballroom that has been completely renovated.

"It's an opportunity for everyone to see what we've accomplished in a short time," Carbo said, adding other renovation work will be "moving quickly."

The hotel has had a troubled history. The city took over the facility in April after the previous owner filed for bankruptcy. A previous deal to sell the hotel fell through because of lack of financing. Sabro Associates, the hotel's original owner, missed loan payments, and transferred the hotel to the city in 2006.