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McClatchy-Tribune  07/03/2014 11:22 PM ET
Lloyd District Red Lion Hotel to close for $10 million transformation [The Oregonian, Portland, Ore. :: ]

July 03--The Red Lion Hotel near the Oregon Convention Center in Portland will close Sept. 2 and reopen next year as Hotel Eastlund after an extensive renovation.

Portland development officials are reviewing the plan, which calls for a complete reboot for the half-century-old hotel.

"We're gutting it and building everything back from scratch," said Desmond Mollendor, one of the partners in Grand Ventures Hotel LLC, which bought the hotel last summer. "There's nothing currently there that's going to remain except for the structure itself."

When it reopens in May, the hotel will have two new restaurants run by Portland chef David Machado, who operated Nel Centro at the Hotel Modera. That hotel went through a similar repositioning by the same partnership.

On the top floor of the six-story building, Machado will run a full-service restaurant with a rooftop deck and three fire pits. On the street level and spilling into the hotel lobby, he'll open a bakery-cafe and wine bar.

The hotel will also include two boardrooms, two private dining rooms and a ballroom. Its room count will fall from 173 before the renovation to 168 after.

The $10 million renovation will replace a driveway to the underground parking garage with 1,000 square feet of retail storefronts. Mollendor said the businesses will be able to take advantage of increased foot traffic from the hotel, the convention center and the hundreds of new apartments under construction nearby.

"As more of this density comes, there will be more and more foot traffic," he said. "I don't think there will be much trouble in the way of filling that space down the road."

Portland-area hotels have seen an uptick in occupancy and revenue in recent months, a rebound from a recession that had stalled any potential for new hotel construction.

That's prompted a wave of hotel investment. A Residence Inn by Marriott, funded through a federal immigrant investor program, opened in the Pearl District in April, and Hilton has announced a boutique-style, 300-room hotel at Southwest Second and Jefferson. Several other hotels have recently traded hands.

"Portland is a strong hotel market," Mollendor said. "We're becoming more and more known for great things to see and do. Hopefully that will continue."

-- Elliot Njus


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