The Twin Cities will get an InterContinental Hotel this summer when the Mille Lacs Band rebrands the Crowne Plaza Riverfront Hotel in downtown St. Paul with the stamp of the international luxury hotel.
The move was announced Tuesday by Melanie Benjamin, the band’s chief executive, in her annual State of the Band address. The band, which operates two Grand Casinos in northern Minnesota, last year purchased the Crowne Plaza and the DoubleTree by Hilton — representing about half the hotel rooms in St. Paul — as part of a long-term strategy to diversify its investments beyond gambling.
“We have signed a deal to upgrade the Crowne Plaza in St. Paul to an InterContinental Hotel, which will move this hotel into the luxury category,” Benjamin said.
“This speaks to our commitment to high-quality assets and making big moves to diversify and expand our economy outside of Indian gaming.”
The band plans to make over each room and the hotel’s common areas with new furniture and fixtures. The property will become an InterContinental when three-fourths of the rooms are finished some time this summer.
In a statement Tuesday, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman called the plan “a dramatic reinvestment” that would extend what he called downtown’s “rapid growth and vitality … I look forward to seeing what they have in store for this property.”
Both of the band’s downtown St. Paul hotels are managed by Graves Hospitality Corp., the company started by hotel magnate Jim Graves that runs the Graves 601 in downtown Minneapolis.
With 468 rooms in 22 stories towering over Kellogg Boulevard, the Crowne Plaza is the largest and best-known convention hotel in the downtown. It opened as a Hilton in 1966 and became a Radisson 10 years later, featuring a revolving restaurant on the top floor.
The hotel was renamed the Crowne Plaza in 2006 after New York-based Trinity Hotel Investors bought it and another downtown Radisson from the St. Paul Port Authority for $43.4 million.
Terms of last year’s purchase by the Mille Lacs Band were not released, and the band has not put a price tag on the planned renovation. Tribal leaders have said they have no plans to build a casino in connection with the St. Paul hotels.
Crowne Plaza hotels are part of the InterContinental Hotels and Resorts chain, which also includes Holiday Inn, Staybridge and Candlewood Suites. But InterContinental hotels are considered more upscale, with locations on six continents and in more than 60 countries.