News for the Hospitality Executive
Stonebridge Companies Acquire the Former The Crowne Plaza
Will Re-flag Hampton Inn - to Better Match the Market
|By Jeff DeMoss, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 23, 2003 - OGDEN, Utah -- The new owners of the Eccles Building at 2401 Washington Blvd. say they will run a hotel that fits in better with the local economy than it did under previous ownership.
Denver-based hotel operator Stonebridge Companies and its affiliate investor group Andromeda Hospitality Group, Inc., recently finalized their purchase of the 90-year old downtown building and, after some renovations, will operate it under the Hampton Inn and Suites flag, a subsidiary of Hilton Hotels Corp.
The purchase price was not disclosed, but Stonebridge president Navin Dimond said the company paid -- less than half -- of the $9.68 million Weber County assessed value for the building and half-acre plot it sits on.
Dimond said that with room rates averaging from $65 to $85 per night, the hotel will be more economically viable than when it netted $100 or more per room under the Crowne Plaza flag, which disappeared in February.
"The Crowne Plaza didn't work there because the rates it required were too high for what people want to pay in Ogden," he said. "A Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons would be nice, but you have to match the market with the product."
In order to do that, and to satisfy Hilton's specifications for its Hampton Inn and Suites brand, some interior changes will take place at the building in the next few months. Stonebridge will combine some rooms to make larger suites, add a swimming pool in the basement, and replace the restaurant and lounge area in the lobby with a continental breakfast bar.
Ogden community and economic development director Stuart Reid said Stonebridge's experience in hotel management will add value to the hotel and downtown in general.
"Their relationship with Hilton and the fact that they have a number of other hotels gave us confidence that they know the business and understand the market here," he said.
The former office building, built in 1913, received a multimillion-dollar makeover in 2001through tax increments and loans provided through Ogden City, and opened as the Crowne Plaza just in time for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The hotel was booked throughout the games, but afterward suffered from low occupancy. Parent company Six Continents pulled out of the building only a year after opening.
Without a major brand association, the hotel's struggles worsened, and its former owner this year was forced to default on loans provided by Zions Bank, which at that point assumed ownership of the building.
Dimond said Stonebridge, which operates about 40 hotels in six western states, heard about the possible purchase "through the hotel grapevine" and saw an opportunity to enter Utah for the first time.
"The building is absolutely gorgeous, and is in a good location, particularly if the new mall goes through as planned," he said. "Ogden has good bones and positive leadership. We want to integrate with the community and create a win-win situation for everyone."
"This is an indication that outside investors see the real potential of our downtown's future," Reid said.
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(c) 2003, Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. HLT, SXC, (no longer exists-split up), ZION,