Holiday inn

The former Holiday Inn, Erie Downtown Hotel will reopen as the Red Roof

Reimagining the old Holiday Inn in Erie at the corner of West 18th and State streets is taking longer than expected and will certainly cost more.

But the project took a visible step forward on Wednesday with the installation of a new sign that identifies the property as Red Roof Plus & Suites.

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According to industry sources, the name is associated with a more luxurious version of Red Roof Inn that includes upgraded wood-look vinyl flooring.

Sanjay Bharitya, who does business with partners as Mark Erie Hospitality, paid $1.1 million in March 2020 to buy the 60-year-old property, which for the past few years had operated as Erie Downtown Hotel . The hotel was closed by the city in February 2019 for a security breach.

In the end, the problems went deeper than expected by Bharitya and his partners.

Not only did the owners have to remove the squatters from the property, but they also had to install new drywall and replace electrical, heating and plumbing systems.

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This contributed photo from the 1960s shows the former Holiday Inn, looking northeast at the corner of West 18th and Peach streets in Erie.  It later became known as the Erie Downtown Hotel.

“We had to gut it,” said Bharitya, whose company operates a dozen hotels in Pennsylvania and specializes in repurposing distressed properties.

The hotel, which the owners hoped to open in June, is expected to open in September or October. Rising material costs and rising labor costs led Bharitya to estimate the total cost of the project at $5.5-6 million.

“Everything went up, I think two or three times in some cases,” Bharitya said.

“We underestimated the amount of work. We didn’t keep anything except the structure,” he said.

The former Holiday Inn and Downtown Erie Hotel, at the northwest corner of West 18th and State streets in Erie, is featured Thursday.  The hotel is undergoing renovations and is expected to reopen later this year as Red Roof Plus & Suites.

The hotel, which offered 133 rooms, will have around 100 rooms, including around 30 larger suites, after the renovation.

Bharitya said he expects the hotel to be priced competitively with other budget properties in the Erie area. He is also confident that the top-to-bottom reconstruction will make the hotel more attractive to guests.

“It can be a beautiful property,” he said.

Contact Jim Martin at 814-870-1668 or Follow him on Twitter @ETNMartin.

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