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Huntington Will Be Sheraton No Longer

November 12, 1987|MARY BARBER | Times Staff Writer

PASADENA — The Sheraton Corp. said this week that it will end its 31-year tie to the Huntington Hotel because of a disagreement with the owners over "operating philosophies" and will build a new hotel in Pasadena.

Sheraton spokesmen said the company disagrees with plans to replace the Huntington's 81-year- old main building with what Sheraton calls a luxury resort hotel.

Lary Mielke, head of the company that owns the Huntington, said differences with Sheraton were over "how you market it and where it fits in the market." Mielke said he would not use the words "luxury resort" in describing his plans to raze the main building and replace it with a replica. Mielke said more details about the hotel will be made public when a new operator is named in about two weeks.

The Huntington's 280-room main building was closed in 1985 when a study concluded that it might not survive a major earthquake. Mielke's Gemtel Corp. formed Huntington Hotel Associates to buy the hotel in 1986.

Demolition of the main building is scheduled for May or June, 1989, and the new hotel is scheduled to open in 1990, Mielke said.

Sheraton bought the Huntington in 1956 as its first West Coast hotel. The company continued to manage the hotel after it was purchased by Keikyu U.S.A. in 1974.

Allen Thomas, vice president and regional director for Sheraton, said the company is reluctant to part with the Huntington. But he said Sheraton does not believe that the new Huntington will be able to compete with other luxury hotels in Southern California because of its location.

Marje Bennetts, a Sheraton spokesman, said the proposed new Sheraton could be built on one of three sites, which she would not identify.

The new hotel, a new concept for Sheraton, would contain only suites and cater to business travelers.

"We believe that is the market in Pasadena," Bennetts said. "That's what we've had at the Huntington lately, and we believe the San Gabriel Valley will support this."

Built about the turn of the century, the Huntington has large, ornate banquet rooms that will not be demolished. The hotel also will keep its picture bridge, Japanese garden, swimming pool and several cottages for permanent residents.

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