Crowne Plaza

Former Hotel Pontchartrain in Detroit finds buyer; converting to Crowne Plaza

3 Apr, 2012 By: David Eisen

Encouraging news out of the Motor City. The former Hotel Pontchartrain, across from Cobo Center and once a city landmark, which fell into foreclosure in 2009, has been purchased by a yet-to-be-confirmed buyer who will convert the hotel into a Crowne Plaza.

However, Bill Bohde, a SVP of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, told The Detroit News that the buyer is Mexico-based developer Gabriel Ruiz. Bohde said the InterContinental Hotels Group, which operates the Crowne Plaza brand, informed him of the sale.

Meanwhile, David Findling, the court-appointed receiver who has controlled the downtown property, said the buyer is a University of Michigan graduate who has been in involved in about 40 hotel development deals. "He is well-financed and very capable," Findling said. "Work [on the building] is expected to begin this summer."

The 413-room black-glass building has stood as a sign of despair for the once proud city now getting back on its feet.

A spokeswoman for IHG had no comment as of Monday on the sale agreement for the hotel, reports Detroit News.

"That thing has been a black hole," Charles Skelton, president of Ann Arbor-based Hospitality Advisors Consulting Group Inc., told The Detroit News. "You have so many convention visitors at Cobo who have to walk past that thing, and it's just been an embarrassment."

According to STR, metro Detroit hotels experienced a 10-percent improvement in occupancy rates last year compared with 2010. Metro Detroit's hotel market hit an average occupancy rate of 64.5 percent in October 2011, according to STR, the highest for that month since a 68.7-percent rate in 2000.

The increase in occupancy for hotel rooms is expected to continue in 2012. Based on advanced bookings beginning November 1 to October 31, 2012, Detroit's hotel scene will be the second strongest in the nation next year, according to TravelClick.

"I think because of its prime location and the fact that the Crowne Plaza uses the Holiday Inn reservation system, this hotel can work really well downtown," Skelton added, noting room rates would fall in the $110 to $150 range.

The hotel last operated as the Detroit Riverside Hotel, but closed for good in July 2009 when the air conditioning system gave out.

The hotel was originally built in 1965 and noted for its glass and steel structure. It was a popular destination for incoming travelers and locals. 
The hotel's location has historical significance because the original Fort Pontchartrain was established near it.

Findling said that he had fielded offers through the years for as low as $1 million.

The Crowne Plaza development would be the second hotel planned for downtown. An Aloft hotel, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide's boutique lifestyle brand, is expected to open by 2014 in the empty David Whitney building.


Topic : Detroit, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Pontchartrain
External Source : The Detroit News, Hotel Management

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