PINELLAS PARK — Come January, a Marriott hotel flag will mark one of this city's northern boundaries.
The raising of the flag will mark the transformation of the nine-story Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd., into a Marriott. It will also mark the halfway point of a $20-million expansion that will add 11,000 square feet and 51 suites to the building.
Pinellas Park City Council members, who unanimously okayed the project during Thursday's council meeting, expressed delight.
"Obviously an asset to the city," Mayor Bill Mischler said. "We're glad."
Anthony Menna, whose Pallas LLC owns the hotel, said construction is expected to begin within the next month and will be done in two stages. The first, construction of a conference center, is expected to be finished by late this year. A tower to house the new suites will begin after that.
The revamped hotel will be a first-generation concept, Menna said, with incense in the rooms and an interactive bar.
The lobby will be divided into five zones that, like the rest of the hotel, will have connections for computers and other such devices. The hookups are designed to appeal to the business travelers who are projected to make up most of the weekly business.
The ballroom and revamped restaurant are expected to attract not only business people but leisure travelers and locals looking for good food and a convenient meeting place.
Menna said he is expanding the hotel and turning it into a Marriott to keep up with current trends and to remain competitive in today's market.
The Marriott chain, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., comprises 15 brands that include Marriott Hotels and Resorts, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co., Renaissance Hotels and Resorts, Fairfield Inns and Residence Inns. The conglomerate, Marriott International, has more than 3,000 hotel/motels in 67 countries and territories.
Council members were thrilled with the prospect of being home to a full-service, cutting-edge Marriott, but they were less happy with resident Randy Heine, who first questioned the adequacy of the parking, which was not being increased as part of the expansion. Then Heine accused the owner of the engineering company that is designing the project of buying council members' votes with political donations to election campaigns. Council members, he said, would do whatever Housh Ghovaee wanted.
Menna and council and audience members jumped to Ghovaee's defense, saying he had done a lot for Pinellas Park throughout the years.
Ghovaee said he was "really, really, deeply hurt" by the accusations.
"All I want to do is promote this city and its people," Ghovaee said.