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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    The Radisson Hotel in Nashua abruptly closed its doors Monday, Jan. 31, 2011.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Radisson employee, Bill Herreid shovels snow from the last snowstorm that covered the main sidewalk leading to the front entrance, Thursday evening. Earlier this week, the Radisson of Nashua was forced to shut down for major plumbing repairs of frozen pipes.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    A conference room at The Nashua Radisson is left bare after frozen pipes forced the hotel to close for several days.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Cars are parked outside of The Nashua Raddisson, Thursday evening.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Paul DiNapoli, General Manager of The Nashua Radisson, talks about why the hotel was closed for several days and what they are doing to prevent it from happening in the future.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    Radisson employee, Bill Herreid shovels snow from the last snowstorm that covered the main sidewalk leading to the front entrance, Thursday evening. Earlier this week, the Radisson of Nashua was forced to shut down for major plumbing repairs of frozen pipes.
  • Staff Photo by Grant Morris

    The lights are turned back on at the Nashua Radisson, Thursday, after the building had been dark for several days.
Friday, February 4, 2011

Radisson back open for business

NASHUA – The parking lot was still a mess and the lobby was awfully quiet but the Radisson Hotel Nashua was up and running Thursday afternoon.

“This was a real difficult time for a lot of people, and it just broke my heart,” said Paul DiNapoli, the hotel’s general manager. “I’m just so happy that we got through it quicker than expected.”

At a court hearing Thursday, owner Anthony DiLorenzo reached an agreement with the mortgage lender to resume operations immediately.

DiLorenzo, a Portsmouth businessman who owns Southern New Hampshire Hospitality, which owns the hotel, said after the hearing that previous reservations and events will still be honored.

He also said that employees were being called Thursday and asked to come back to work.

The Radisson, a city landmark known for its castle-like design, closed abruptly Monday, forcing guests out of their rooms. The closing was the culmination of a dispute between DiLorenzo and Quebec-based CADIM Note Inc., which holds a $20 million mortgage on the hotel. The mortgage has been in default since December 2009, and $1.9 million is past due.

In public, management blamed the closure on a plumbing issue, including two water line breaks that damaged eight of the 330 or so guest rooms and one conference room.

DiNapoli said he wasn’t privy to the court agreement or financial situation for the hotel, but said the hotel is open for good now and is even looking to add to its roughly 100 employees, particularly in the restaurant and at the front desk.

“I’m focused on the building, the employees and the guests,” DiNapoli said. “We wouldn’t have opened if this was a short-term commitment.”

Thursday’s agreement does not resolve 13 months of failed financial negotiations between DiLorenzo and CADIM.

“That is a work in progress,” said Peter McGlynn, DiLorenzo’s lawyer.

DiLorenzo is seeking a discounted payment plan. When the hotel closed, he and CADIM were in a standoff over the final $750,000, according to court documents.

Court papers filed Wednesday raise questions about whether the hotel’s closure was a negotiating tactic. Southern New Hampshire Hospitality said it would reopen if the two could strike a deal, and the hotel is more valuable to the lender when it’s operating and collecting revenue.

Thursday’s agreement was reached in a private meeting between lawyers for both sides and U.S. District Court Judge Joseph LaPlante. After the meeting, LaPlante held a brief session in open court to disclose the terms.

“We’ve been litigating this over the phone for the past few days,” LaPlante said.

DiLorenzo agreed to fully reopen the hotel, provide regular financial statements to CADIM and give seven days notice of any future closing.

CADIM dropped its emergency request to place temporary control of the hotel in the hands of a third party and seize assets related to the hotel.

The Radisson shut down without warning Monday. Employees were called into a meeting that morning and told to “shut everything down” and take their personal belongings.

DiNapoli said he and department heads called in all the hotel’s employees Thursday afternoon for a staff meeting and he answered their questions and tried to allay concerns about the hotel’s future and their jobs. All of the employees have come back, he said.

Now staff is contacting guests who had reservations to let them know the hotel re-opened. That process could take days, DiNapoli said.

Guests who were booted on Monday were reimbursed, he said, as will be organizations who were planning to hold events at the hotel but had to scramble to find alternate locations.

“We’re going to make everyone right again,” DiNapoli said.

The hotel will try to woo back organizations who have events planned several months from now, he said.

DiNapoli was also spending a good part of his day on Thursday trying to reassure guests, including nervous brides-to-be and their mothers, that the hotel is open for good.

DiLorenzo said the closure was abrupt because there was concern about additional, undetected plumbing problems that could have led to greater damage. The water line shut-off valves either weren’t in place or weren’t functioning properly, he said.

“I’m not sure … this is not my area of expertise,” DiLorenzo said.

Had there been a larger emergency, it would have been difficult to relocate the hotel guests during a snowstorm, he said.

DiNapoli said plumbing contractors have given the building a clean bill of health and other contractors checked for any mold the flood could have created but found none. The hotel is still down seven guests rooms and a meeting room, he said.

It’s unclear whether the hotel will continue to operate under the Radisson name. The closure may have violated the franchise agreement. Both DiLorenzo and a spokeswoman for Carlson, which owns the Radisson brand, said Thursday they weren’t sure.

Joan Cronson, spokeswoman for the hotel chain, said the company’s operations team is working with the owner to understand the situation.

CADIM filed a lawsuit the day of the closure, in response to a Jan. 27 letter from a Radisson representative that threatened closure over the failed negotiations. The suit included the emergency request to place the hotel in the hands of a third party.

DiLorenzo’s company, Southern New Hampshire Hospitality, responded by saying it would reopen if the lender allowed it to keep all of the cash from operations to pay expenses. Before the closure, the hotel’s profits were being turned over to the lender as compensation, although the profits hadn’t been enough to cover the mortgage. It’s unclear whether CADIM will agree to alter those terms.

The hotel, along the F.E. Everett Turnpike near the Massachusetts line, was the Sheraton Tara Hotel before Southern New Hampshire Hospitality purchased it in 2007. It has more than 330 guest rooms, several conference rooms, a restaurant and lounge, indoor and outdoor pools, and a gym that is under separate ownership and remained open.

DiLorenzo, a Portsmouth-based businessman, also owns a Crowne Plaza Hotel in Newton, Mass., and the Seacoast-based Key Auto Group, which operates four auto dealerships in New Hampshire.

Ashley Smith can be reached at 594-6446 or