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Reopening Delayed Until February : Grant Gives a Posh Peek at Renovation

April 18, 1985|GLENN BURKINS | Times Staff Writer

Two waiters in black tuxedos served coffee and wine Wednesday at a downtown San Diego hotel. Just across the room, three cooks, to the accompaniment of soft background jazz, served a feast including roast veal loin, poached salmon with dill sauce and stuffed tomatoes.

The only thing strange about the midday meal was that it was being served at the U.S. Grant Hotel--a building closed for renovation since August, 1982.

The meal capped an hourlong media tour, during which hotel officials explained the Grant's $80-million renovation. Ulysses S. Grant Jr. built the hotel in 1910 to honor his father and, since then, the building has been remodeled at least five times. Some of the latest upgrading is expected to be completed by December, according to Bill Parr, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.

About 175 workmen are trying to meet that schedule, although the grand opening has been delayed until February.

Parr said the completed hotel should be one of the most luxurious in San Diego. Lodging there could run anywhere from $110 to $1,000 a night and will feature suites of varying sizes, all with luxurious 19th-Century elegance. However, the hotel will have such modern touches as hot tubs.

Hotel officials expect the U.S. Grant, with about 27,000 square feet of meeting space, to become one of the city's premier convention and meeting centers.

About 80% of the hotel's guests will be either individual corporate travelers or participants in small group meetings, said project manager Pat Leone.

Leone said CDS Grant-Associates, the company that owns the hotel, is limited in the changes it can make because the building has been designated a historic structure.

For instance, the rooms must be close to their original sizes, and the hotel's 1,000 windows must be similar to the originals, she said. Also, certain rooms have antique floor tile that cannot be removed.

Construction workers face a big task to ready the hotel in eight months. Only a few of the 283 rooms have walls, and the plumbing is not complete.

However, officials say the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau has already booked about 110 reservations. And Parr said others also have made reservations.

Officials estimate the hotel will employ 398 San Diegans, including some of those who worked there before it closed.

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