Sheraton finishes renovation


Brenna Norman/The Daily Iowan
Sheraton sales coordinator Jane Aramer stands among the crowd at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completion of renovations to the Sheraton on Oct 13.
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Sheraton Hotel’s ribbon-cutting event on Tuesday marked the completion of the building’s new, modern renovations. It also means one fewer warm pit stop on the way downtown for students.

With the end of the nine-month, $11 million project to transform the hotel, people will no longer be allowed to stroll through the hotel’s interior walkway at night. The Sheraton has long served as a centerpoint in downtown Iowa City, hosting prominent visitors and serving as an access point for UI students walking downtown.

Sheraton’s reputation as a hub of rowdy late-night action prompted General Manager Bently Kriewald to introduce a new regulation by securing the walkway for guest-access only from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Guests will now need their keys to enter the walkway and security guards will be present.

However, because the interior walkway will be closed off, workers also renovated the exterior Dubuque Street Walkway next to the hotel in partnership with the city, Kriewald said.

“It’s very well-lit and completely redone — more like a walkway than an alley, as it used to be,” he said.

Once the outside walkway’s rennovation is completed, the Sheraton’s inside walkway will begin closing at 11 p.m.

Although this recent decision keeps a few folks out, Kriewald thinks the lush lodge will usher in more people and business.

“The better we do from an occupancy standpoint, the more revenues are generated for the entire city and community,” he said. “It will bring more and more people to restaurants and shops downtown.”

One of those people is project supervisor Patrick Randolph. The Oregon-native has been staying at the Sheraton during the renovation and said he likes the community.

“This project has been painless – real smooth,” he said. “Everyone involved has been really great.”

Randolph said the renovation has already immensely improved the Sheraton’s walkways, areas he heard Mayor Regenia Bailey refer to as “detractors” Monday night.

“The outside one especially,” he said. “It’s not such a dreary place to come through anymore.”

UI senior Frank Sigwarth uses the walkways a few times every week and knows the area to be much more lively than dreary, especially with the colder months approaching.

“It’s probably to keep drunk people from hanging out in there during the winter,” he said.

Mike Finlayson, ambassador of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, described the Sheraton project as a kind of Wizard of Oz transformation.

“It used to be blasé and drab in here, like black-and-white Kansas,” Finlayson told a group of gatherers. “The tornado was the wall-bashing and whirlwind of destruction, and now this bright, beautiful lobby is Oz.”

Scott Kearney, the project manager, agreed and said he was glad to see reactions to his work.

“It’s nice seeing that everyone enjoys the product — a lot of people seem to gather and like it here,” he said, and the hotel’s renovated features bring “a new vibrancy to the area.”

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