Read House plans revamp, dropping Sheraton name

Read House plans revamp, dropping Sheraton name

October 10th, 2014 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

The historic Read House hotel is located on M.L. King Boulevard in between Broad and Chestnut streets in downtown Chattanooga.

The historic Read House hotel is located on...

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

In the second revamp of a historic hotel unveiled in downtown Chattanooga this year, the owners of the Read House plan to upgrade the 235-room property and change the Sheraton flag under which it has operated for the past decade.

"It will be a significant renovation," said Bill Hodges, who is part of the Atlanta group that owns the 88-year-old building.

Hodges wouldn't yet specify all the work that will take place as that may depend on what brand the Read House is reflagged.

But he said the hotel is expected to see another eatery and an update to its popular Starbucks store. Porter's Steakhouse also likely will stay, he said.

With more residents living downtown, there's an added demand for restaurants, Hodges said.

"The location is more and more strategic and we're encouraged by it," he said about the Broad Street and M.L. King Boulevard hotel.

In July, the Chattanooga Choo Choo's owners said they plan to undertake an $8 million renovation and restoration of the longtime Market Street complex. It will include a comedy club, a 500-person music/entertainment venue, retail space and two new restaurants. The project also will involve a $1 million update to hotel rooms.

Hodges said the Read House's ownership group is considering a couple of possibilities as it prepares to reflag the hotel.

"We've been approached by two other hotel companies," he said. "We really have a good and exciting choice to better position the property."

Hodges said the owners aren't upset with Sheraton, but its 10-year license runs out at the end of October.

He said they've negotiated an extension through April 2015 and the hotel will remain on Sheraton's reservation system so guests can continue to generate lodging points.

But, Hodges said, the hotel is dropping the Sheraton name and will be known as the Read House.

Bob Doak, who heads the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he's glad to see the owners continue to put money into the hotel.

"Anytime there's a major renovation, that's certainly very appealing and makes us more attractive to visitors," he said.

Doak said he's hopeful the hotel's new flag will generate incremental room nights from a loyal guest base.

"Typically, you've got people loyal to a certain brand," he said.

In 2004, the Read House underwent an $11 million renovation that added the Porter's Steakhouse to the hotel.

Hodges said future renovations are to start around the first of the year and more details are coming.

He said the Read House is having "if not a record year, it's a near-record year."

The owner cited the management of the property and its sales and marketing department growing business even as more hotels rooms are added downtown.

"We are in tune with what's going on in downtown Chattanooga," he said.

Doak said that anytime investors plow money into the city, they believe in Chattanooga and that its best days are ahead.

"Great cities never stop planning or building," he said, adding Chattanooga needs to "dream big, think big and build big."

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.


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