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Hotel

By JENNIFER NETHERBY Staff Reporter In September 1993, the 30-year-old Holiday Inn Express in Van Nuys reopened for business following a year-long, $750,000 renovation. Four months later, the Northridge earthquake shut it down again. Now, $2.7 million and another renovation later, the hotel on Roscoe Boulevard and Orion Avenue has opened again, after a six-year hiatus. The first renovation, done by previous owner American General Hospitality, was a cosmetic facelift, which included few if any structural upgrades. As a result, the 1968 building was unable to withstand the January 1994 earthquake. In 1997, National Hotel Management purchased the Van Nuys hotel in a $100 million-plus deal that included 16 other Los Angeles hotels. The vacant Van Nuys hotel was left untouched for another year, while the new company focused on the more lucrative Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Airport and other West L.A. hotels it had acquired in the deal. National Hotel considered demolishing the Van Nuys hotel or selling it. But in 1998, the company decided to renovate the Holiday Inn once again, in an effort to capture a growing Valley hotel market. “We took over from the old company that had attempted to renovate it,” said George Noumer, the hotel’s general manager. “Basically, we were successful and they weren’t.” Noumer was brought in as general manager and National Hotel put in $2.7 million, essentially rebuilding the hotel from the inside out. From the building’s structure to the bed linens, everything was replaced, Noumer said. “The hotel was gutted, sealed and chained,” Noumer said. “Everybody that knew the hotel, they don’t even recognize it now.” National added a fitness center and meeting rooms to the hotel. The building now meets current earthquake safety codes. Area businesses have welcomed the hotel’s second coming. “Thank God,” said Nancy Hoffman, executive vice president of the Mid-Valley Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve had a lot of calls over the years asking whether they were going to sell or open. We’re just happy the business reopened. It’s sorely needed.” Most Valley hotels are located at the basin’s east end, closer to Universal City and Westside attractions. Noumer said National Hotel decided to pump money into renovating the mid-Valley hotel because of its location near Van Nuys Airport and the San Diego (405) Freeway. “This side of the Valley needs a nice hotel,” Noumer said. The nearest hotel is the Airtel Plaza Hotel and Conference Center on Valjean Avenue. “It’s nice to have a place to refer people to if they don’t want a big place like the plaza,” Hoffman said. The mostly industrial area has undergone a commercial rebirth of sorts over the past few years, with the opening of Wal-Mart and other retail stores. Since opening for business in late November, the Holiday Inn has had a steady 60 percent occupancy rate, Noumer said. The average San Fernando Valley hotel occupancy rate for December was 57.42 percent, according to PKF Consulting, which tracks the hotel industry. Most customers are corporate business people who fly into Van Nuys, as well aviation-related business people, Noumer said. He hopes the latest renovation will be the last for awhile. “We’ve had enough of that,” he said.

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