By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The parking lot of the Edward Hotel & Convention Center, 600 Town Center Drive, sat empty Dec. 14 after the hotel suddenly was closed at noon by the city for safety violations.
Signs were taped to the glass doors of the hotel stating, “effective December 14, 2018, the Edward Hotel and Convention Center is closed for renovations until further notice. We apologize for any convenience this may cause.”
A notice of violation from the city’s property maintenance and development services department said the hotel does not have a valid certificate of occupancy or valid license to operate.
The violation also read that the hotel, “must comply with all violations identified in the property maintenance and development services letter dated December 12, 2018 by 12 p.m. Friday, December 14, 2018” and “must comply with violations identified in fire department violation notice dated December 04, 2018 by 12 p.m. Friday, December 14, 2018.”
Missouri resident Erika Alexander was staying at the hotel when she was told by a hotel employee the city shut the business down. She packed up her personal items and was packing them into her SUV outside the hotel about 1 p.m.
“When I checked into the hotel I asked for a room on the lower levels because I am afraid of heights and the employee said they are renovating the lower floors,” she said. “I was given a room on the third floor and did notice some of the floors seemed uneven.”
Alexander was in town until Sunday and was left looking for a place to stay with her children for the remainder of the trip.
“We were given a letter from the hotel staff stating the business would be closing today and when I spoke with the employee said she just found out about the closing this morning,” Alexander said. “This has never happened to me before.
Calls to the hotel were picked up by the switchboard operator who said the hotel building was closing and that employees were going to be laid off.
The hotel’s current owner Xiao Hua “Edward” Gong is facing criminal charges for fraud and money laundering in Canada, according to Crain’s Detroit Business.
Dearborn Director of Public Information Mary Laundroche told Crain’s that the city has been working with the owner since May 2016 to renew the note’s certificate of occupancy. She also said the hotel ownership owes $1.1 million in outstanding taxes, but that was not the reason for the closure.
The 772-room hotel and conference center opened in 1976 as the Hyatt Regency-Dearborn, and has undergone several name and ownership changes, including 2011 when Royal Realties which purchased the hotel for $15.5 million and by Gong for $20 million in 2016.
With the new owner came the new name, Edward Hotel & Convention Center, the fourth name since 2012 when the hotel was the Hyatt. After the Hyatt came the Adoba Hotel Dearborn/Detroit, Regency Dearborn Hotel & Convention Center then Royal Dearborn Hotel & Convention Center.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)