|By Jennifer Myers, The Sun, Lowell,
Mass.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
August 1, 2009- --LOWELL -- It is official. Out with the DoubleTree Hotel, in with the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center.
UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan confirmed yesterday afternoon that the $15 million sale transferring ownership of the 252-room Warren Street property from the Procaccianti Group of Rhode Island to the UMass Building Authority has been completed.
The facility is currently closed, with a $4 million rehabilitation project slated to commence today. The improvements include upgrading the rooms that will be available to the public as well as sound-system, wireless technology and other hi-tech and facility improvements.
"The goal is to totally refurbish and greatly improve the quality of rooms available to the public, as well as prepare for the university's needs," Meehan said.
The UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center will house 350 upper-class, honors and foreign students in 175 rooms this fall. The university is expected to keep 30 to 50 rooms available for the public.
Meehan said the facility's first big event could happen this September. The university is working to woo the critically acclaimed play The Rivalry, based on the 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, to the center for three performances to coincide with the 161st anniversary of Lincoln's visit to Lowell.
"To bring the play in, we would be required to provide 10 hotel rooms, so we will have rooms available to the public right away," he said.
"But in terms of being a full inn, that will be complete by the end of May 2010."
UMass Lowell spokeswoman Patti McCafferty said the university is expected to select a firm to manage the hotel within the next two weeks. A committee is currently reviewing four proposals from national management firms, received in response to a request for proposals issued by the university.
The DoubleTree signs have already been removed. Blue awnings with the UMass Lowell logo are expected to be installed next week, with large building signs anticipated to arrive within the next two weeks, McCafferty said.
"There is an enormous amount of cleanup and work," she said. "Students will be moving in at the end of August and we will start holding events and conferences in September."
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