|By John Gallagher, Detroit Free
PressMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 04, 2012--Detroit's dormant Hotel Pontchartrain, if reopened as planned, could enhance the city's ability to attract conventions and trade shows to the city, a local convention official said Tuesday.
The Pontchartrain, closed and in receivership for the past few years, has been sold to Mexican hotel developer Gabriel Ruiz, said Bill Bohde, senior vice president of the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Bohde said he has been told by executives at the InterContinental Hotels Group that Ruiz is negotiating to reopen the Pontch under the Crowne Plaza chain, probably in 2013 after a renovation.
Adding the planned 413 rooms to the downtown market would give convention planners one more property to offer when booking business for the Cobo Center convention facility across the street from the Pontchartrain.
"You're going to be able to put speakers, VIPs, right across the street from the convention center, which is very attractive to planners," Bohde said.
Chuck Skelton, president of the Ann Arbor-based consultancy Hospitality Advisors, said reopening the Pontchartrain as a Crowne Plaza would benefit from a strong reservation system and its proximity to Cobo.
But he added, "They would benefit from any improvement in (business) at Cobo. ... I am not certain how much demand that property could create but it could benefit from others creating demand."
For the near future, a reopened Pontchartrain would have to contend with occupancy rates that are less than optimal for hotel operators, given a somewhat weak downtown hotel market.
Located at Washington Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue, the Pontchartrain was built in 1965 as downtown's first major hotel since the 1920s.
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