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Wright Investment Properties Inc. Re-opens the Aladdin Hotel
 in Downtown Kansas City Following a $15 million Renovation
By Rick Alm, The Kansas City Star, Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Business News

Apr. 27, 2007 - Like a cat with nine lives, the venerable downtown Aladdin Hotel will reopen -- again -- on May 4.

The event will mark the 193-room, 16-story tower's second go-round as a Holiday Inn franchise after two stints as Embassy on the Park, a stretch under the Days Inn flag and most recently as the independent Citi Centre Plaza Hotel when it was last closed in February 2004.

But the hotel's past failures no longer matter, said Larry F. Wright Sr., president of privately held Wright Investment Properties Inc. The Memphis, Tenn.-based group, with 22 hotels in nine states, purchased the structure at 1215 Wyandotte St. for an estimated $5.1 million in late 2005.

"The reason we brought this grand old hotel was its location and what the people in this room have accomplished" reinventing Kansas City's downtown, said Wright at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday with Mayor Kay Barnes, City Council members and other civic leaders.

The Aladdin has undergone more than a year of remodeling as a specialty boutique hotel. Its exterior and cozy lobby have been restored to the Roaring '20s look it sported when it opened in 1925, also as the Aladdin. Photos of the historic sign outside were used to craft a replica.

Interior decor ranges from retro and art deco to ultra-modern. Vivid colors compete for visual attention with the historic lobby's polished marble pillars, checkerboard marble floor and brass railing that lines a second-floor mezzanine, which now houses a fitness center and the Martini Loft lounge.

A bit smallish by today's standards, guest rooms displayed Thursday were finished in decidedly 21st-century fashion. Rooms offer modern mahogany desks and bureaus, stainless steel fixtures and picture frames, 32-inch HD flat-screen televisions, DVD players and complimentary hard-line and wireless Internet access throughout the hotel.

The hotel's historic Zebra Room will be open seven days a week. Depending on day, demand and applicable discounts, rooms can be had for $89 a night, up to $199 for one of two suites. The rack rate is $149.

The smoke-free hotel also features nearly 3,000 square feet of top-floor ballroom and meeting space that can seat up 225 for banquets. There is also a business center, hotel valet parking in the public garage across the street and below Barney Allis Plaza, and hotel executives are considering adding a day spa.

While Aladdin is part of the Holiday Inn chain, the connections are almost invisible and deliberately underplayed in hotel promotional material. The advantage is access to the national chain's reservation system, said General Manager Frank Fry.

Renovation costs aren't being disclosed, but Wright said the number was more than $15 million.

The construction budget included $4.5 million in city tax-increment financing assistance that directs a percentage of local tax revenues generated by the hotel into project costs, including a modern elevator system and fire safety upgrades.

Wright said the project also was granted federal and state restoration tax credits.

To reach Rick Alm, call (816) 234-4785 or send e-mail to ralm@kcstar.com.

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Kansas City Star, Mo.

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