‘Just Plain Wrong:’ Detroit ‘Council Drops Ball on Crowne Plaza’ 2nd Tower — Crain’s –  Deadline Detroit

An architectural rendering shows the proposed new tower at left on the corner of Larned Street and Washington Boulevard. (Service Operators for Luxury Hotels illustration)

Never mind our explansion plan, an international hotel giant says after a second Detroit City Council rebuff.

In a Crain’s Detroit Business scoop, Chad Livengood has the latest round in City of Detroit vs. Crowne Plaza:

After striking out twice at Detroit City Council, the owners of the Crowne Plaza in downtown Detroit are pulling the plug on a new 500-room, 28-story hotel tower connected to Cobo Center — for now — and considering new hotel investments in Houston and San Diego instead. . . .

A Mexican and European investor group that bought the former Hotel Pontchartrain out of bankruptcy in 2013, has decided to stop pursuing the project after council members suggested the company should sign a neutrality agreement for a labor union to represent hotel workers. 

The proposed $164-million development, which would add an estimated 250 post-construction jobs, doesn’t seek tax breaks or government subsidies.

“We are still fully committed to Detroit with our current operation,” Livingston quotes an executive representing the owners as saying. The holding company, Operadora de Servicio Para Hoteles de Lujo (Service Operators of Luxury Hotels), is based in Benito Juarez, just outside Mexico City.

Separately in the latest issue of Crain’s, an editorial criticizes council members for “playing labor politics in a way that costs the city jobs and hotel rooms.” The unsigned commentary says the project “seems like a no-brainer” and adds:

The council members who have now twice rejected it . . . are far exceeding their mandate by interposing themselves into management-labor relations and room cleanliness. We may be going out on a limb, but we’d bet there are plenty of lodgings in the city that are more dingy.

If this were Detroit’s “bad old days,” we would wonder if the hotelier failed to make campaign contributions to the right council members.

But another motive is apparent in the latest request from the council members — to secure a pledge by hotel management of a neutral stance toward another unionization effort. 

Original article, Wednesday:

The Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Detroit, just steps from Cobo Center, has an image problem. And it’s costing the hotel when it comes to expansion.


For the second time, the City Council has rejected a request to build a second tower, citing room conditions in the existing building, employee pay and the hotel owner’s failure to sign a neutrality agreement acknowledging the workers’ rights to form a union, Candice Williams writes in The Detroit News.

The council voted Tuesday 6-2 to reject the bid. Council President Brenda Jones, President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield and members Janee Ayers, Roy McCalister Jr., Raquel Castaneda-Lopez and Scott Benson voted no. Council members James Tate and Andre Spivey voted in favor of the request. Gabe Leland was absent.

Executives of the chain that owns the Washington Boulevard hotel vow to keep pushing for the 28-story, 500-bed tower. 

“I support employment. I support good customer service,” says Council President Brenda Jones. “But what I do not support is problems within a hotel where I receive calls from out-of-state visitors that are here who feel that the hotel is a convention hotel, and that they experience a lot of problems . . . [with] the rooms inside the hotel. Not with the employment, not with the customer service.” 

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