|By Rebecca Kimitch, San Gabriel Valley
Tribune, West Covina, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 26, 2010 --ROSEMEAD -- City leaders have called the Glendon Hotel, off the 10 Freeway, an albatross, a sinkhole, and cause for heartburn, but if all goes according to plan, in a matter of years the hotel could rival the San Gabriel Hilton in class.
The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to begin negotiating with a Chinese investor for the sale of the troubled hotel, which sits on 39,000 square feet at Glendon Way and Ivar Avenue next to a new UFC Gym.
The investor, Qiao Garden Group, plans to spend $2 million renovating the 53-room facility to make it "much nicer, the best hotel in Rosemead," said Helen Wang, who represents the potential buyer.
The city chose Qiao from among seven interested buyers.
In the meantime, city staff will try to recoup $55,000 the hotel's current operator owes Rosemead -- an effort one staff member said will be a fight.
For years, the hotel, formerly called the Rosemead Inn, was a haven of drug dealers, gangs and crime. Then, in 2008 the city's redevelopment agency decided to purchase the property for $4.4 million with the hope it would become part of a major redevelopment project planned for the area.
That redevelopment project is now defunct. But while officials were still hoping for that plan to come to fruition, they leased the hotel to Rosemead Inn Hotel Partners, LLC, to operate the business for two years.<>Despite promises of monthly lease payments of $10,000, Rosemead Inn Hotel Partners has paid nothing to the city to use the hotel. The company says lease payments were based on the hotel making money, which hasn't happened. >
But the city claims it is owed lease money, as well as back transient occupancy tax payments.
In addition, Rosemead gave the company $100,000 to renovate the hotel. But a recent investigation, city staff concluded only $61,000 worth of renovations were made. So officials are demanding the company return the remainder, as well as the back lease and tax payments, amounting to $55,000.
"We definitely need to continue putting pressure on them to see if we can get that money back ... that is city money," Councilwoman Polly Low said.
Rosemead Inn Hotel Partners will cease operations at the hotel at the end of the month.
Though the hotel has been appraised at only $2.5 million, Rosemead is negotiating its sale to Qiao Garden Group for $4.4 million -- the same price the city paid.
The city held a competitive bid process for the hotel's purchase and of the seven offers, several were well over appraised value, City Manager Jeff Allred said.
"I think the property is attractive to the development community because of its proximity to the highway," he said.
Wang said once the hotel is renovated, it will meet a need in Rosemead.
"There are a lot of foreign people who come here to visit, and there is not a high-standard place for them to stay," she said.
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