A major business in eastern Iowa is rebuilding its reputation under new management. The Crowne Plaza Hotel was often referred to as the "crown jewel" of downtown Cedar Rapids, but renovation work – originally scheduled to start in 1999 – came to a stand still. Just a year ago, the owners weren’t paying bills and owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes.
Employee paychecks bounced and health benefits were canceled. A bank now owns the 275-room hotel and repairs and renovations are on the fast track. General Manager Deb Stout says they’ve reopened the Top of the Five restaurant – located on the 16th floor. "It’s a gorgeous view from up there," Stout said.
The Crowne Plaza is the city’s largest hotel and one of the tallest buildings in Cedar Rapids. Presidents have stayed there and there’s a landing pad for helicopters on the roof. In a year and a half, Stout says the historic hotel took a major hit from the previous owner, Kronos Hotels. Not only did the reputation suffer, but renovation efforts took a hit too.
"They might put in vanities before they put in the carpet, so when the carpet came they had to take out the vanities and lay down carpet…a lot of things were done backwards as someone would do it to make it efficient," Stout said. The hotel’s pool, which was damaged in last year’s flooding, is expected to reopen in the next few months. Workers are also preparing to replace the carpet in the hallways and lobby.