POCATELLO — An owner of Clarion Inn says plans to convert the facility into apartments where services would be offered for elderly veterans have fallen through and he’ll continue to operate the business as a hotel.
HSB Hotels partner Dr. Satinder Singh, a California veterinarian, closed the Clarion Inn for a few days starting on Jan. 5. Singh has since reopened the hotel under a new management team.
Singh had been in discussions with the Chicago-based real estate investment and development company Lockwood Development Partners LLC. Lockwood officials had announced their intentions to turn the hotel, located on Bench Road in Pocatello, into a 125-unit apartment complex for veterans over 55 years old. The plans called for the inclusion of an on-site adult daycare and a workforce training and education center.
Charles Everhardt, president of Lockwood, said Friday he hadn’t heard the deal was dead, and he believes he still has a binding contract with HSB Hotels to buy the property — a point that Singh disputes. Nonetheless, Everhardt said he’ll look for another local property if HSB won’t willingly sell.
“We will open up a location in Pocatello whether it’s this location or another one,” Everhardt said.
Singh explained Clarion Inn’s brief closure allowed time for training the new managers, hosting internal meetings and discussing circumstances affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Singh explained the Clarion has large banquet halls and attracts several conferences and events. The hotel, which has a big indoor swimming pool, is also popular among families and for birthday parties, he said.
Singh said he recently spoke with a woman who used to swim in the pool when she was a child. The woman said she hopes to one day bring her grandchildren to swim there.
“All of these things motivated us to continue to run it as a hotel,” Singh said.
In mid-December, the Pocatello City Council approved Lockwood’s plans to have the hotel property rezoned from commercial to residential, commercial-professional to facilitate the project.
“At some point there were discussions with Lockwood to see if this could be possible, and they gave this offer to a lot of hotels in Pocatello,” Singh said, adding there was a wide gulf between the parties when it came to negotiating a sale price. “All of the negotiations fell apart.”
Singh purchased the hotel in September of 2019. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a major blow to his business, but he’s optimistic things will pick up this summer, when more travels pass through en route to Yellowstone National Park and coronavirus vaccinations make it possible for people to resume traveling. He also believes a strong aid package for hotels included in the recent federal stimulus bill will help him weather the storm.
Once the pandemic has ended, he plans to invest in significant upgrades to the facility.
Everhardt wishes the Clarion owners well, but he’s skeptical that they’ll succeed in the current business climate.
“People are selling (hotels) for 50, 60, 70 percent discounts,” Everhardt said. “I’m trying to help them.”