Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Turnaround Complete, Owner Patel Says

Kiran Patel says the days of turmoil at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh are finally over.

“The city and people at large want to see this property not as an eyesore,” Patel, the hotel’s owner since 2011, said this week.

Nearly $15 million in renovations were completed in January, adding three floors to the front of the building, more meeting space and a pool with a breathtaking view of the Fort Pitt Bridge and the Point.

But getting there was not easy. Patel, a Tampa physician and businessman, had to navigate the hotel out of bankruptcy, manage union unrest over a new contact, and complete the renovation project that was stalled for at least two years under the previous owners.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/5924249-74/hotel-patel-wyndham#ixzz2yj4m6ho8
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Business Booming At Montgomery County Hotels Due To Power Outages

Location of Upper Merion Township in Montgomer...

Location of Upper Merion Township in Montgomery County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UPPER MERION TOWNSHIP, PA — If area residents who were without power may have felt like the losers in Wednesday’s icy winter weather games, the winners were the area’s hotels, where “no vacancy” seemed to be a recurring theme.

Then again, depending on where they chose to spend Wednesday night, some of those displaced “losers” may have felt as if their luck was about to change for the better.

“Where else would you want to be but at a casino on a night like tonight, right?” said Michael Bowman, CEO and president of Valley Forge Casino Resort.

With every one of the resort’s 485 rooms due to be snapped up within the hour, Bowman said the lobby was buzzing with folks who had closed up their dark and unheated homes in search of plush lodgings on First Avenue in King of Prussia.

Read more:  http://www.timesherald.com/business/20140205/business-booming-at-montgomery-county-hotels-due-to-power-outages

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Hotel Lancaster Will Replace The Brunswick Downtown

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Standing amid workers installing tile and trim and painting the new lobby, real estate developer John Meeder declared: “The experience starts here.”

The experience is one of a bright, open lobby; clean, well appointed rooms; and a well-managed facility.

It will be the experience of The Hotel Lancaster, promised Meeder.

“The Brunswick is history. It is no longer the name of this hotel,” he said. “Sorry historians, but there is too much baggage.”

The street-level lobby had long been recommended by urban planners, but by moving it to the East Chestnut Street side of the building, Meeder and his partners also are getting a new address.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/901905_Hotel-Lancaster-will-replace-the-Brunswick-downtown.html#ixzz2h3cWK938

Abe Lincoln Hotel Sold; $10 Million Renovation Planned

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It took more than a year and a half, but Reading entrepreneur Alan Shuman finally got what he wanted: The Abraham Lincoln hotel all to himself.

With settlement completed Tuesday, Shuman’s entity, Lincoln Hotel LP, paid $5.05 million to add the 104-room historic hotel to his downtown real estate portfolio. That figure includes about $2.25 million in real estate and the rest in furnishings, fixtures, equipment, contents and the assumption of debt.

Shuman said he plans a $10 million renovation, of which $300,000 has been spent.

His plans include restoring the hotel and its rooms, adding a pool two-thirds of the size of an Olympic pool and reopening the Abe Saloon.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=470286

Boscov Asks Reading To Take $1 Million Loan For Proposed Hotel

Retailer Albert R. Boscov, whose nonprofit Our City Reading is trying to get financing for a four-star Doubletree Hotel along Penn Street, asked City Council on Monday to approve a $1 million federal loan as part of the package.

“If you can help us here, I promise you a hotel,” Boscov told council members.

Council is slated to vote on the deal Monday.

Read more:   http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=432953

Jehovah’s Witness Conventions Boosting Reading/Berks Economy

The Jehovah’s Witnesses have since 2005 spent several quiet weekends each summer at conventions in the Sovereign Center, without any of the fanfare given the concert idols and hockey giants normally associated with a sports/entertainment complex.

As a result, they are responsible for half the downtown civic center’s $254 million economic impact over its first decade.

That’s the surprise coming out of a study released last week by Dr. Lolita A. Paff, associate professor of business and economics at Penn State Berks.

The 225,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses who spent three days each at the conventions also spent nearly $111 million on gasoline, hotels (1,200 rooms a night), shopping and meals outside the arena from 2005 through 2011, Paff’s report said.

Read more:  http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=415098

Hotel Brunswick Given Reprieve To Decide On Repairs

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County

Map of Pennsylvania highlighting Lancaster County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  Congrats to the City of Lancaster for being proactive with problem properties!

Owners of the property housing the Hotel Brunswick and an unused annex that the city has condemned have four months to let Lancaster city officials know what they plan to do.

The owners are considering either demolishing the annex, making repairs or making repairs and gutting it for another use, the owners’ attorney, Paula Leicht, said Thursday.

The annex was last used about three years ago to house the Rumba Club. In condemning it July 16, the city said a leaking roof, toilets and other fixtures had led to mold growth and made it unfit for human occupancy.

Leicht told the Housing Code Board of Appeals the owners needed more time to get job bids and decide which option to pursue.

Read more: http://lancasteronline.com/article/local/715594_Hotel-Brunswick-given-reprieve-to-decide-on-repairs.html#ixzz23ome5XCQ

Jim Thorpe: Revitalization Success Story – Pottstown: Umm, No…

Postcard picture from 1915 of a "bird's e...

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I drove up to Jim Thorpe today thinking it would be cooler in the mountains (not) and because it is a funky place (this was not my first visit, hence I already knew it was funky).

Jim Thorpe is the county seat of Carbon County.  Carbon County has a total land area of 387 square miles and 65,249 residents, based on the 2010 Census (a population density of 171 persons per square mile).  Jim Thorpe’s population was 4,804 (2000 census) with a land area of 14.5 square miles (mostly undeveloped, obviously).  Carbon County borders Lehigh County to the south and Luzerne County to the north.

Jim Thorpe was originally two towns across the Lehigh River from one another – Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk.  The two towns merged and adopted the name Jim Thorpe, after famed Native American Olympian Jim Thorpe who is buried in the borough.  Originally, what is now Jim Thorpe was a railroad and coal-shipping center.  Like many Pennsylvania towns, Jim Thorpe found itself on the downside of post-industrialization and languished for many years.  Becoming Jim Thorpe was the first attempt to boost the local economy.  This offered only limited success and so the town leadership needed to find other means of ramping up their economy.

Today, Jim Thorpe is a bustling small town that has become a destination (are we paying attention Pottstown?) using its natural surrounding, its heritage and some good marketing. 

Jim Thorpe has capitalized on being a former railroad town.  You can take an awesome train ride along the Lehigh River.  During the trip you learn about local history, play games and answer questions.  It is very enjoyable and affordable.  Asa Packer and his son Harry Packer have mansions in Jim Thorpe.  Asa’s mansion is a museum and Harry’s mansion is a B&B.  Asa Packer founded the Lehigh Valley Railroad and Lehigh University.

Jim Thorpe is a river town.  The Lehigh River runs between both sides of town.  Taking advantage of being a river town, Jim Thorpe offers whitewater rafting on the Lehigh. 

Jim Thorpe is also a mountain town.  It’s called the “Switzerland of America”.  Taking advantage of being in the mountains, the town offers mountain biking and hiking.  They threw in paintball just because.  And don’t forget the Anthracite Triathlon, paying homage to being a coal-shipping center and part of the Coal Region.

Jim Thorpe is a historic town, full of 19th century architecture.  One can see examples of Federalist, Greek Revival, Second Empire, Romanesque Revival, Queen Anne and Richardsonian RomanesqueSt. Mark’s Episcopal Church, the Carbon County Courthouse, the Packer Mansions, the Train Station, the Hotel Switzerland, historic Broadway, the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Building and the Carbon County jail are some of the architectural attractions in town.

Jim Thorpe is so cool.  How cool is it??  Jim Thorpe was listed as number 7 on Budget Travel magazine’s America’s Coolest Small Towns in 2009.

Downtown Jim Thorpe is full of restaurants, bars, boutiques and stores of all kinds.  No empty buildings or mental health drop-in center.  Everything is clean and neat.  There is signage every where so you can find your way.  There is plenty of cheap parking…you have to pay but it is only a few dollars for the day.  There is plenty of foot and vehicular traffic coursing through the downtown.  Keep in mind this town has 4,804 people (or there about – not finding 2010 census results yet) and their downtown puts Pottstown’s to shame.  What’s wrong with that picture?  Jim Thorpe is 4 ½ time smaller than Pottstown, off the beaten path (Carbon County is not exactly Montgomery County with 800,000 people) and yet this town still finds ways to revitalize and thrive, even in a bad economy.

Would you suppose the Mayor of Jim Thorpe nuzzles the ear of the Carbon County Commissioners at local events and undermines the borough council’s downtown revitalization strategy and possibly harms a local business?  Would you suppose the Mayor of Jim Thorpe goes on the local radio station and bad-mouths borough council or that his/her spouse calls borough council a bunch of idiots while storming out of a meeting?  Would you suppose the Mayor of Jim Thorpe blows off out-of-town visitors and embarrasses borough council by promising to do something and then not doing it?

What do you suppose Jim Thorpe’s secret it?  Would you think the borough leadership came up with a plan and sticks with it?  Would you think there is a vision for Jim Thorpe and that the leadership works together and speaks with one voice?  Would you think taking advantage of a town’s history and natural surroundings is as good idea? Would you think creating a destination environment to attract repeat visitors is a good strategy?  Do you think embracing art and culture is a good strategy?  Jim Thorpe does.

Obviously, we are doing something very wrong in Pottstown that we are put to shame by a little mountain town in rural Carbon County.  They have left us in the dust.