Duluth Radisson hotel’s new owner plans face-lift
Carl Kaeding says the Radisson hotel in downtown Duluth is a beacon. The circular hotel with the rotating top floor certainly got his attention when it went up for sale last year. On Thursday, Kaeding Management of Bloomington, Minn., closed the deal and purchased the property.
“It’s certainly the most iconic hotel in Duluth if not the state,” Kaeding said Friday while sitting in the lobby of the hotel. “Show anyone in the state a picture and they know what it is.”
He said the hotel has been “neglected” the past decade or so and he plans to bring a face-lift to “bring it back” and create more memories for visitors. Rooms were last updated in the 1990s and it shows, Kaeding said.
But the hotel’s iconic status remains, he said, along with clear memories for guests about the round hotel with the revolving top offering panoramic views of Duluth.
“There’s a wealth of nostalgia here,” Kaeding said.
The 288-room Radisson was last sold in 2007 for $5.8 million. The property was listed for sale last year at $9.5 million through a broker for former owner Trinity Hotel Investors. Kaeding didn’t reveal what his company paid. It will be the largest of the seven hotels the company runs.
Kaeding also signed a 20-year franchise agreement with Radisson, meaning the name of the hotel will not change. Customers of newer Radisson hotels across the country are seeing what the Duluth property will soon look like, he said.
A deal was thought to have been sealed last fall with another Minnesota company, Bay Ridge Properties of Wayzata, but it fell through.
Kaeding said bookings weren’t where they should have been when compared to other hotels in Duluth.
Bay Ridge ended up as part of the sale this week. It will manage food service at the hotel through the restaurant. Bay Ridge manages several restaurants in the Twin Cities area and Cowboy Jacks eateries across the state.
Kaeding said efforts will be made to refine the offerings at the restaurant and make it more consistent.
Adequate parking will also be a priority, Kaeding said. He’s read critiques from guests online, and parking, as well as the dated décor of the rooms, often comes up. He said large events in the meeting rooms put a crimp on available parking spaces around the hotel and in its ramp.
Guests “are not going to fight for parking,” Kaeding said.
Kaeding said he plans to offer beefed-up service at the lobby doors with a “fully functioning valet stand.”
The guts of the building are sound, Kaeding said.
The hotel was closed last year for nearly three months after a waterline burst. The damage required $3 million in repairs. The hotel re-opened June 6. Kaeding said the repairs meant most of the mechanical structure of the building is solid.
Kaeding was visiting with employees Friday and said all but a few of the 90 employees are staying on. He said they were relieved to hear about coming updates to the hotel as well as stability in ownership.
“The employees here do a good job given what they have to work with,” he said.
He said his company tries to identify hotels with a “good core staff.”
Customers with bookings before the sale won’t have any problems keeping their reservations, Kaeding said.
He said customers should appreciate the changes made in the coming months and years.
“It’s not an overnight thing, but they’ll eventually feel like they’re in a new hotel,” he said.