Read this month's Acadiana Business cover story about how a local hotel flew under the radar of local and state code officials as it undertook a major renovation in its quest to become a Crowne Plaza.
In February 2008 Hotel Acadiana General Manager Mark Arnold told Acadiana Business the conversion to the upscale Crowne Plaza would give his hotel a big competitive edge. He said the renovations would begin in March, with the hotel undergoing a massive “top to bottom” renovation and also adding a new restaurant. “It’s going to be a complete renovation. We will be a Crowne Plaza after we are finished,” he said. “We will be the second Crowne Plaza in the state.” Arnold said the renovation should be complete by the end of the year but was unable to put a dollar figure on the cost of the project. Crowne Plaza’s Web site now confirms that the hotel has been undergoing a $10 million renovation. But ongoing safety problems at 1801 W. Pinhook Road are just now coming to light, revealing a massive construction project that has been operating under the radar for almost a year. For one, the project has never had a licensed engineer or architect on the job, says LCG’s chief building official, Larry Manuel. That’s a state requirement. In fact, the owner of the hotel — Zeus Investments LLC of Houston, according to the local tax assessor’s office — didn’t hire an architect of record until mid-February of this year. The project has been through two contractors and as of Feb. 20 still did not have a general contractor on board. Manuel says he recently objected to Hotel Acadiana’s request to hire a Kenner contractor, Quan Truong Inc., which wasn’t licensed by the state board until January of this year. Manuel says he didn’t want anyone only recently licensed and urged Hotel Acadiana officials to find a local contractor because the project was such a mess. He also says a local contractor who wanted to continue working in the area would be more accountable on the job. So how did this project get so out of hand, without a single inspection in almost a year? “They told us it was all going to be cosmetic stuff,” Manuel says.
Read the rest of the story here.