The Clarion Inn at Platte River is open for business.

And the past dozen years have ended with inept management -- with intermittent bursts of hope -- losing millions of dollars for investors and Casper's economy, the president of company that manages new hotel at 123 W. E. St., said Wednesday with a western cliche.

"There's a new sheriff in town," said Deborah Cannon of the Kennesaw, Ga.-based CUSA, LLC.

The new owner, West Central Hospitality Ops, LLC, has worked with CUSA to restore what was once one of Wyoming's premier hotels.

 

The Clarion Inn at Platte River, 123 W. E St., will have its public grand opening at 5 p.m. today.

West Central Hospitality Ops and CUSA, LLC, recognized that the former Parkway Plaza was ideally located just off Center Street at the Interstate 25 exit, had 42,000 square feet of convention space, and had a solid building that needed work.

For the hotel to succeed, it needed a national brand. CUSA chose the Rockville, Md.-based Choice Hotels and its mid-scale Clarion brand, which operates full service hotels with restaurants, bars, and meeting spaces.

"You have multiple reputations that are on the line here," Cannon said.

Since taking over, West Central Hospitality, LLC, has invested $3.7 million in renovating the property, she said.

Deborah Cannon.    Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

The hotel has finished 198 of the hotel's 298 rooms and will continue working on the rest, she said. The rooms have a design consistent with other Clarion hotels, she added.

The family-friendly Old Town will be open year-round, and the former All that Jazz lounge has been renovated and renamed the Saloon, Cannon said.

The hotel was sensitive to the history of the area, including keeping the dual staircases in the lobby, she said. When the new owner considered removing them, it got a lot of pushback from people in the community who said they had wedding photos taken in the lobby and cited other memories.

Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

Art in the lobby was created by local artists and metal workers, and the shiplap siding comes from local ranches, Cannon said.

The Clarion's biggest challenge has been recovering the business the hotel lost as organizations moved their meetings and conventions to other cities, especially Cheyenne, Cannon said.

To meet that challenge, the large meeting room and ball room have been renovated, as well as other meeting rooms throughout the hotel.

The hotel also has a full sales staff that has been meeting with clients and it has been working with the Casper Area Visitors and Convention Bureau.

The Clarion Inn now has events scheduled into 2023, with most of those in 2020, she added.

Cannon remains confident that the Clarion Inn can overcome the problems that plagued the former Parkway Plaza, which opened as the Ramada in the mid-1960s as one of Wyoming's premier hotels.

"There were many promises made in the past that weren't fulfilled," she said.

Former owner Pat Sweeney sold it on a contract for deed in 2008 to a Houston company called Amidee, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Investors lost millions of dollars.

Sweeney got it back in 2010 and tried to renovate it. In 2015, he sold it to CRU Casper, LLC, a subsidiary of the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based CRU Real Estate Group.

On Oct. 31, 2018, the Parkway abruptly closed and sent home its workers.

In December, the Parkway Plaza was sold at an auction for $15,520,000 -- including $11,520 in mortgage debt -- at an auction to the Pasadena, Calif.-based Greenlake Real Estate Fund, LLC.

The owner of the Clarion is West Center Hospitality Ops, LLC, which is part of Greenlake, Cannon said.