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March 19, 2020

Source: Downtown Hartford's Homewood Suites closing permanently amid COVID-19 uncertainty

HBJ File Photo Homewood Suites in downtown Hartford has closed permanently due to economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Homewood Suites by Hilton, a 116-room hotel in downtown Hartford on Asylum Street, is closing for good amid uncertainty surrounding mass COVID-19-related closings and cancellations.

A person familiar with the situation said the decision to close was made because ownership thought it made little sense to stay in business with dwindling occupancy and no clear end-date to widespread quarantines.

"Hartford was on a track of eliminating vacant buildings in downtown Hartford, now it seems like a building that was in operation is vacant," the person said. "It's gone the other way around."

About 40 people will lose their jobs at the hotel, the source said.

The state now has 96 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus and officials assume the spread is far greater.

Hotel industry executives met with President Donald Trump this week, asking for a $150 billion bailout for the industry, according to The Real Deal, a trade publication for the real estate industry. Among those executives was Jon Bortz, CEO of Maryland-based Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, who later that day announced layoffs of most of the hotel chain's 8,000-person workforce.

The Bond Ballroom will remain open, but events there are postponed until further notice due to virus-related restrictions on gatherings of people.

Nationally, more than 140 million rooms are expected to become empty in the next month, according to Chip Rogers, the president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

“As it continues to be unknown how long this public health situation will last, the coronavirus has already had a more severe economic impact on the [hotel] industry than September 11 and the 2008 recession combined,” Rogers said in a press conference call late Tuesday after a meeting with Trump’s administration on its response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is crippling the hotel industry and the local communities they serve as well as the U.S. economy,” he said.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates the nation’s hotel industry will lose nearly four million jobs in 2020, with a year-long occupancy rate of about 30%.

“That equates to $180 billion in wages, and a $300 billion hit to the national GDP,” Rodgers continued.

A previous version of this story incorrectly said the Bond Ballroom will probably close. The Bond Ballroom will not close, however events are postponed until further notice due to virus-related restrictions on gatherings of people.

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