A group of Indian investors formed 1775 Parkway Place LLC to purchase the former Clarion Hotel out of foreclosure April 25 for $2.5 million, according to records on file with the Cobb County Tax Assessor’s office. The Clarion had been closed for almost two years, a casualty of the Great Recession serving as a black eye on one of the city’s main corridors into town.
The 218-room hotel with a pool, restaurant, lounge, ballroom and fitness center sits on 3.5 acres and has a tax value of $10.25 million, county records show. It once sold for as high as $15.5 million in 1997 and sold for $4.8 million as recently as 2005.
The new owners, represented by Bhashan Khana of Alpharetta, hope to return the property to its proper status as a crown jewel on the city’s southeast side. They reopened the hotel Aug. 9 as a Radisson. They brought in an all-new management team led by general manager Jeff Briner, who came from a Radisson in Duluth, Minn.
The first step in a multi-phase rejuvenation of the hotel was to reopen the full-service restaurant and lounge and upgrade the rooms with new mattresses, bedding, towels and other soft goods and new 37-inch flat-screen TVs in every room.
That much has already been accomplished, said Briner. He was joined by Sales Director Debbie Vickery, who has worked in various sales and marketing roles in the Atlanta area for 30 years.
“The Radisson has higher standards, and we’ll be going more upscale than Clarion,” Vickery said. “It really is coming together. The restaurant is open. We’ve hired a former chef from Bahama Breeze (restaurant chain). And we have room-service now.”
In all, the hotel will receive a $3 million makeover during the next two years, Briner said.
“We’re also looking to hire front-office sales people and housekeeping people,” he said. “They should apply in person.”
And while the Radisson signage has gone up in recent weeks, there is still plenty of work to do, starting this fall with the restaurant, called Parkway Place Café, and the Alibi Lounge. Neither has had a substantial renovation in seven to eight years as the property, originally built in 1985 as a Sheraton, has changed ownership several times. It later became a Crown Plaza and then, in 2011, became a Clarion.
“Our intention is to restore it to its former glory as a full-service hotel,” Vickery said. “It will be much brighter and bolder in the restaurant and lounge when we’re done with it this fall.”
The location would seem to support the notion that the hotel’s highest use would be as a full-service hospitality business. It sits just off Marietta Parkway at Interstate 75, less than half a mile down the parkway from the main entrance to Southern Polytechnic State University. It’s 16 miles from downtown Atlanta.
Besides the 218 rooms, the Radisson has 6,600 square feet of meeting space, including an almost 3,000-square-foot main ballroom that can accommodate up to 250 people. Two smaller meeting rooms are capable of holding about 30 people each.
“It’s very competitive here (in Cobb County) for business meeting space,” Briner said.
The Radisson becomes one of only two full-service hotels with convention space inside the city limits of Marietta. The other, the Hilton Atlanta/Marietta Hotel and Conference Center on Powder Springs Street, is much larger with 25,000 square feet of meeting space and a 6,500-square-foot ballroom.
The Radisson will aim to attract some of the smaller conventions that require a ballroom of roughly half that size along with some of the same amenities. The ballroom has already been outfitted with glittering new chandeliers, and the food and beverage team under Andy Porter is ramping up to meet the challenges it will face in this competitive business.
“We’ll be able to do full catering in the meeting rooms,” Vickery said. “It will be a great place for wedding receptions as well as business meetings.”
The fitness center, with its glass walls overlooking the outdoor pool, along with the media room are also in line for renovations in 2014.
Also among the standards that come with the Radisson nameplate is the pledge of 100 percent customer satisfaction.
“Our amenities must be consistent and we’ll offer ‘Yes I can’ service,” Briner said, repeating the company motto. “If we can’t make it right, to the guest’s satisfaction, they will be offered points toward future stays or dollars on their Visa card or toward airline frequent-flyer mileage. It depends on what will make the guest happy.”
Briner said the hotel will strive to serve business and leisure customers alike.
“A 70-30 mix is ideal for us,” he said, referring to 70 percent business clientele and 30 percent leisure. “That’s what we would like to see.”