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(erielack) ex Lackawanna Scranton station bought

California firm buys Radisson 
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A California-based real- estate investment firm has purchased the historic 
Radisson at Lackawanna Station hotel in Scranton, promising to upgrade the 
nearly century-old landmark with updated guest rooms and a fancier decor.

Akshar Lackawanna Station Hospitality LP, a unit of El Centro, Calif.-based 
Calvin Investments LLC, bought the facility for $7 million from DanMar Hotel 
Inc., which has owned the property since 1993.

“Our goal is to preserve the historic beauty of the hotel while giving it 
enhancements,” said Nick Patel, president of Calvin Investments and one of four 
principals joining in ownership of the Radisson.

The new owner plans to continue operating the hotel as a Radisson. 

The company will spend $1.5 million to $1.7 million on renovations, which 
will start immediately and be completed by summer 2006, Mr. Patel said. Among the 
changes: guest rooms will get new carpeting, beds, wall coverings and plasma 
televisions. Also, the lobby will receive new granite flooring.

“I think we got a nice deal given the history of the building and beauty of 
the hotel,” Mr. Patel said.

The sale, which closed Tuesday, comes after months of speculation over 
whether the hotel would be sold or converted for another use.

In December, the University of Scranton said it was considering buying the 
hotel after being approached by owners. In May, it decided not to.

The purchase of the hotel was welcome news for city officials. The landmark 
hotel sits at the top of the Lackawanna Avenue corridor, a focal point of 
retail and commercial growth. 

Efforts to reach officials from DanMar were unsuccessful. DanMar bought the 
hotel for $4 million in 1993. The company’s principals run Danella Companies of 
Plymouth Meeting, which operates a variety of businesses ranging from utility 
construction to real estate management and development. 

Employees were told of the sale in a meeting Wednesday. The employment and 
operations of the Radisson will not change as a result of the sale, the new 
owner said. Kelly Ranelli will remain general manager and the hotel will retain 
160 full- and part-time workers.

The new owner is primarily involved in hotel ownership and management. Calvin 
Investments owns and operates 12 hotels, mostly in Southern California. The 
hotels range in class and size and include a Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and 
Hilton Commons. 

The other hotel principals are Jitu Patel, Hiten Shah and Ketan Vakil. All 
live in Southern California. 

Pro Hotels Inc., also a subsidiary of Calvin Investments, will manage the 
hotel. Mr. Patel will run the management company. 

The deal originated this summer when Calvin Investments and Danella 
Companies, by coincidence, shared the same lawyer, Mark Citron of Princeton, N.J. . Mr. 
Citron pitched the availability of the Radisson to the California investment 
firm. The original contract was signed June 7 and the deal was finalized 

“It amazed us when we first walked in. We fell in love with the building,” 
Mr. Patel said. “We’ve never seen a hotel like this and we don’t own one like 
this either.”

While he and his business partners were impressed by the hotel’s ambiance, 
the group found room for improvement, including the quality of rooms.

Occupancy at the Radisson declined after the opening of the nearby Hilton 
Scranton & Conference Center in August 2003. Both hotels rebounded in 2005, with 
the Radisson reporting 67.4 percent occupancy through September. Mr. Patel 
said he would like that figure to settle at 70 percent or higher.

The Hilton, plagued by its own financial problems, was recently purchased at 
a sheriff’s sale by its primary creditor, Spectrum Origination LLC.

Hilton General Manager Ron Wojcik said Wednesday he hadn’t heard about the 
Radisson sale and is not familiar with the lodging company that purchased it. 
But he said the new owners’ success will depend upon the quality of the physical 
improvements and operations. 

A quality, vibrant Lackawanna Station would help the Hilton, he said.

“Anything that makes the city more prosperous is good for the hotel,” he 
said. “More quality rooms for people will increase traffic and their growth will 
help our growth.” 

Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce President Austin Burke called the news “
tremendous,” saying the hotel is the best possible use for the property. In 
the 1980s, a chamber-led effort saved the former train station and railroad 
office and converted it into a dining and lodging facility. 

“The Lackawanna Station is not only a great property, but it is a signature 
building in the city,” he said. “The hope of everyone is that the combination 
of the Hilton and Radisson properties would bring more business and dollars to 
the city.”

University of Scranton officials were happy the facility will continue to be 
a hotel. University spokesman Stan Zygmunt said the hotel’s quality and 
proximity has made it popular for university guests.

The historic site of the Radisson dates back to 1908, when the Delaware, 
Lackawanna & Western Railroad opened it as Lackawanna Station. It operated as a 
rail station until 1970.

The building sat vacant for nearly a decade before an arm of the Greater 
Scranton Chamber of Commerce raised $13 million to restore the building and 
convert it into a hotel. On Dec. 31, 1983, the Hilton at Lackawanna Station opened. 
After a short stint as the Royce Hotel in 1989, DanMar bought it in 1993 and 
later converted it to a Radisson.

Contact the writer: sdaily_@_timesshamrock.com 
©The Times-Tribune 2005 

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