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PARK PLAZA HOTEL GETS 60-DAY REPRIEVE

The Park Plaza hotel, which was set to close July 15, will remain open for at least two more months, according to hotel management and owners.

"We got notification Thursday from ownership that we are going to continue managing the property for at least 60 days," said Steve Dougherty, general manager of the hotel at 4243 Genesee St., Cheektowaga.

Although most guests who had planned to stay at the hotel have booked rooms elsewhere since the news of apparent closing, Buffalo Lodging, which owns the property, decided to keep the hotel running.

"When we went to close the property, some issues came up that we had to renegotiate," said Scott Parker of Buffalo Lodging. "Both sides didn't agree and there are still some things we need to get done."

Parker did not cite any specific issues, but said the WARN Act -- Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification law -- was not involved. The act requires companies with more than 100 full-time employees that are laying off 50 or more comprising at least one-third of the full-time work force, to give workers 60 days' notice of any layoff.

Before receiving word of the closing, Park Plaza employed about 150, with close to half being part-time. Some of those who expected their jobs to end on July 15 have already found other jobs.

Dougherty acknowledged that the past week has been a challenging time for his employees.

"It's a little bit like a roller coaster," he said. "We are hired to do a job of operating the facility, and we are going to continue operating the facility."

With low occupancy, only a reduced staff is required to maintain the hotel. Not only have guests left, but leased items such as vending machines have been removed.

Parker said he realizes that the news of the closing has had a negative impact on the Park Plaza's business and predicts that revenues will be low.

"The general manager will have a trying time running the hotel," Parker said. "They may continue to loose staff as other people will start looking for jobs, which is the smart thing to do."

Dougherty is still not sure whether the banquet facility will remain open, since many events have been rescheduled.

Buffalo Lodging, which is a subsidiary of Benderson Development, plans to tear down the hotel when it finally closes.

"We are leaning strongly towards putting in another hotel here," said Parker. "With the right product, it could do well here."

e-mail: icropp@buffnews.com

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