hotels receive makeovers

While new hotel construction enjoys its moment in the development spotlight, plenty of older properties around the Twin Cities are also undergoing makeovers.

Two marquee properties along the Interstate 494 corridor in Bloomington are being or have been given a major interior refresh: the Sheraton and the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Suites.

The Sheraton Bloomington's $15-million renovation was completed in August and included the addition of a new restaurant, Lela, which has been met with favorable reviews. The hotel, formerly known as Hotel Sofitel, sits at the northwest corner of Hwy. 100 and I-494. It is owned by WB Hotel Partners, which is affiliated with Warren Beck, the developer of the Galleria in Edina, and operated by Wischermann Partners.

All 282 guest rooms, more than 17,000 square feet of meeting space, fitness center and lobby were modernized.

"We've inspired change that we're sure will exceed expectations by issuing modern, elegant and intelligent updates to both our service and hotel design," Paul Wischermann, CEO of Wischermann Partners, said in a statement.

Owners of the Crowne Plaza located near the Mall of America this week announced a major renovation and rebranding for the dated property. The 1970s-era building will have a new look and name by the spring, according to the hotel's owner, Bloomington-based Kaeding Management Group LLC.

Under the new name Crowne Plaza Aire, the design changes will play off the aviation history of the nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Kaeding executives said the hotel, located at 3 Appletree Square across I-494 from the airport, is the most closely linked of all lodging options to the history of Twin Cities air travel.

"We're planning to make the design focus of the hotel about the history of aviation, floor by floor," said Carl Kaeding, the company's owner and lead development manager. "In many ways, we will be treating it as a gallery. We will have photographs and eight or nine large aviation displays, from the beginning of aviation all the way to the future, to giant planes and space travel. It will be a unique art installation that will invite the guests to roam and in the lobby, there will be a large aviation-themed sculpture."

Kristen Leigh Painter