|By Gary T. Pakulski, The Blade, Toledo,
OhioMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 24, 2008 - Three months after a $10 million face-lift, downtown Toledo's Crown Plaza Hotel is plagued by vacant rooms, unpaid bills, and a dispute over who is responsible for the trouble.
General Manager Josh Sominski said yesterday there are no plans to close the 14-story hotel, although he said he could understand confusion surrounding a notice filed this week with Ohio officials under the Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification Act.
Chicago-based Lane Hospitality Inc., which manages the Summit Street property, notified the state that it "will shut down and cease all operations at the hotel" on Nov. 14. The move would affect 146 hotel employees, according to the notice by Bill DeForest, president of Lane Hospitality.
Mr. DeForest could not be reached for comment.
But the general manager of the riverfront hotel said the move reflects only a planned change in management firms and that all employees are expected to be rehired by the new management firm when it is selected.
He declined to comment on a dispute between the management firm and the hotel's San Diego owner, Andrew Kim, of Paradise Hospitality Inc.
But in the notice to the state, the management firm's president said the owner has failed to "provide sufficient funds for the timely payment of vendors and for the reasonable operation of the hotel."
He said the management firm has "... no knowledge of Paradise's plans with respect to the hotel ..." after Lane Hospitality's departure.
A spokesman for Mr. Kim blamed the problems on the management firm, saying the 241-room hotel is losing money, that occupancy is as low as 18 percent on some nights, and that Lane has failed to meet sales quotas.
The spokesman added, however, that there are no plans to close the hotel.
The hotel's general manager acknowledged there have been problems, but said the average occupancy has climbed to about 40 percent from 30 percent.
"It's a slow period of the year," Mr. Sominski said. "With the state of the economy being as it is, a lot of our corporate accounts are making budget cuts."
The dispute between the management company and the owner apparently led to the departure this summer of John Logsdon, long-time general manager.
Contractors involved in recent renovations filed a lawsuit and three liens against the hotel for $105,000 in unpaid bills.
The biggest claim was filed by Air Force One Inc., a heating and air conditioning firm in Dublin, Ohio.
The contractor filed suit last week in Lucas County Common Pleas Court against Paradise Hospitality and Lane.
The firm also filed a mechanic's lien with the county for $89,000.
County records show that Paradise Hospitality bought the hotel for $7.5 million in March, 2007. Opened in 1985 as the Hotel Sofitel, the property was known as the Toledo Riverfront Hotel until joining the Crowne Plaza chain in June.
Contact Gary Pakulski at: email@example.com or 419-724-6082.
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