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Safety violations shutter former Dearborn Hyatt Regency

Breana Noble
The Detroit News
Safety violations have shuttered the Dearborn Hyatt Regency hotel.

The city of Dearborn closed the former Dearborn Hyatt Regency on Friday due to safety violations.

"Serious" concerns over fire safety and property maintenance at the Edward Hotel & Convention Center, Michigan's second-largest hotel, were found during a Dec. 4-10 inspection and required the city to take action, said Mary Laundroche, Dearborn's director of public information.

"They need to contact us and give us a plan for how they are going to address the issues," Laundroche said. "Until they do, no guests can stay there, and it cannot be operating as a hotel."

Laundroche said the hotel was contacted on Wednesday about the violations and had until noon Friday to correct them. WXYZ-Channel 7 first reported the closure of the 722-room, glass-wall hotel and convention center.

A switchboard operator at the hotel said customers with reservations are being contacted.

According to a letter from the city's property maintenance and development service department, the structure that opened in 1976 was deemed unfit for human occupancy and the hotel does not have a valid license to operate.

The city listed 18 corrective actions that must be taken before it can receive its certificate of occupancy. These include repairing plumbing leaks and elevators, replacing sprinkler heads and ceiling tiles, removing debris from paths and mechanical rooms, and extending expired permits.

Once a shining landmark that had a monorail connecting the hotel to the adjacent Fairlane Town Center shopping mall, the Michigan hotel and convention center has had a tumultuous few years since Hyatt ended its management agreement in 2012.

It has staved off closure before, undergoing at least three sales since 2011. In 2014, the hotel owed more than $850,000 in Wayne County property taxes while operating as the Adoba Hotel.

According to the city of Dearborn, Xiao Hua Gong, also known as Edward Gong, is listed as the manager of the companies owning and operating the property. In June, the Chinese-Canadian business tycoon was charged by Chinese prosecutors over a $275 million pyramid scheme.

Laundroche said when the hotel was acquired by Gong's company from Royal Realties in May 2016, the city was working with its owner to help it obtain a certificate of occupancy. The hotel was allowed to continue to operate as long as improvements were being made. Landroche said the violations now are so serious that the city needed to close the building to protect guests, employees and the public.

Michael O'Callaghan, chief operating officer of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Center, said the structure is in much need of investment and the business has struggled to compete as an independent hotel since downtown Detroit has become a more popular place to meet.

Still, with hotel occupancy rates running at 70 percent in Detroit, O'Callaghan said its closure is noticeable.

"We've had groups who booked or were looking into going into that hotel," he said. "We're going to have to scramble a little bit to replace the blocks of rooms that had been committed there. It's going to be missed."