|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Wednesday, 19 January 2011 00:00|
The Jerome Grand Hotel will likely reopen Thursday, Jan. 20, thanks to an order by Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley.
Ainley ruled Jerome town officials lacked cause when they declared the hotel unsafe Dec. 8, hotel co-owner Robert Altherr said.
Ainley entered a preliminary injunction against the town Friday, Jan. 14, following a hearing at which town officials attempted to justify their decision to revoke the hotel’s certificates of occupancy. The hearing was continued from Jan. 7, when hotel owners Robert and Larry Altherr presented evidence to show the town’s actions were improper.
Attorney and expert witness fees reportedly cost the hotel at least $50,000, costs the hotel owners will ask Ainley to order the town to pay. Hotel attorney John Phillips is expected make a formal request for payment of costs and fees as a result of the Jan. 14 court ruling, he said.
A lawsuit filed against the town asking for damages caused by the closing continues. Altherr said his attorney had not heard from town officials since the Jan. 14 ruling and no negotiations with the town were planned as of Monday, Jan. 17.
Larry Litchfield, a safety engineer who once headed building departments for the cities of San Francisco and Phoenix, testified Jan. 7 the hotel is safe and should not have been closed.
Litchfield testified the hotel was in “very, very good shape.” It should be considered “non-combustible,” he told Ainley. “It will not burn.”
“It’s the safest building in Jerome,” Larry Altherr testified.
Town officials argued the building was unsafe based on inspections conducted in August and September by Fire Chief Rusty Blair, Police Chief Alan Muma and Chief Building Code Official David Stiever.
Altherr testified the business and building together were valued at $7.5 million. Closure of the hotel was costing roughly $17,000 a month and $2,000 a day in lost revenue. Hotel employees who had to be laid off have applied for unemployment insurance, he said.
“We haven’t been taking reservations for more than a month, so we’ll start hiring back employees incrementally,” Robert Altherr said Jan. 17. In the meantime, he and his son anticipate working 12 hour days to get the hotel reopened.
Ainley’s ruling allowed Robert Altherr to plan an open house for the reopening on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 20 and 21, from noon to 3 p.m. A live radio broadcast from the hotel is also planned for Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 22 and 23, from noon to 3 p.m.
Gifts and prizes will be given away during the broadcast, Altherr said.
Town of Jerome officials could not be reached for comment.
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