The second stage of the major renovation of the Hilton Pittsburgh moves into full gear the day after Labor Day. Phase 1 included a $30 million interior renovation that included the gutting of every floor and the updating of all 712 rooms. In addition, the renovation of first floor lobby was recently completed.
Frank Amedia is the asset manager of the Hilton Pittsburgh. He says they are now focusing on the exterior of the building..."The steel will start going up, concrete will start to pour. It's our goal to get the perimeter closed in before the holidays, and then to continue to work through to the spring on the inside."
He says the exterior's appearance will be transformed..."It starts on the end of the building and comes up like a wave for the 3 Rivers theme. It's going to quite an attraction as you come through the tunnel and across. It's going to be something that's blended into the iconic nature and personality of the hotel but yet contemporary enough to pick up the 21st century."
The full renovation could be completed by June.
Amedia says there are 2 main reasons why the renovations have taken more than 2 years: the age (built in 1958) and size of the hotel (712 guest rooms); and the economy.
Amedia says the hotel industry is not in a recession, "it's in a depression."
However, work on the hotel stopped in May 2009 when contractor P.J. Dick walked out after not being paid.
He says the owners, Shubh Hotels, brought on a new management team last week, Prism Hotels, which has taken over 40 hotels since January...."they seem to be better tuned for this site as it pertains to the Hilton brand standards and to the aggressive schedule we're keeping right now."
Shubh fired Virginia-based Crescent Hotels as manager of the Hilton Pittsburgh after filing a court battle with Shubh's lender, Blackrock, Inc. with Shubh and Blackrock each claiming the other side defaulted on loan terms.
Common Pleas Judge Michael Della Vecchia ordered Blackrock to release $500,000 in escrow funds to pay sales, county and drink taxes. Blackrock also withdrew its demand for an immediate repayment of the $49.5 million loan.