By BRENDA J. LINERT
WARREN - "Amazing," "breathtaking" and "jewel" were a few of the adjectives being thrown around Tuesday as local officials and business leaders gathered for the ceremonial kickoff of the new Best Western - Park Hotel on Warren's Courthouse Square.
Owners Jay and Ashok Patel said they spent more than $1 million on the project and aren't afraid to spend more if it's warranted to keep the historic hotel looking new.
Most recently known as the Comfort Inn, the hotel closed for remodeling and rebranding in November.
Speaking in the polished ballroom following the morning ribbon cutting, hotel manager Scott Kifer said he was most excited that the Best Western company had approved adding to the name "Park Hotel" - the original name of the landmark hotel when it opened in 1887.
Nothing in the hotel went untouched by the upgrades, and now the owners are working to find a tenant to take over operations of the hotel restaurant and bar inside the building.
''We are nearing 100 percent occupancy on Courthouse Square," Mayor Doug Franklin said. "I think we are right on the tipping point of something great here."
Nearby downtown businesses also were celebrating the hotel's upgrade.
Retailer Marty Cohen, who operates Mickey's Army-Navy and partners in the promotion of the summertime RiverRock at the Amp concert series, said the hotel means good news for downtown merchants.
"If you have 50 rooms filled on the weekend and five of them wander around downtown, it just increases the critical mass of downtown," he said.
And in the spirit of reciprocity, Cohen said most of the bands that come to town for RiverRock performances are recommended to book at the downtown hotel.
"It's amazing how fast things can turn around, and I think it can all start with a strong hotel here," said Greg Bartholomew, owner of All-American Cards and Comics, who also is a ward councilman.