RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — Kiran Patel missed his chance at the Radisson RTP on Wednesday to pick up a few dozen flat-screen TVs for his family’s two Charlotte hotels, and the bed linens were gone, too. But he had his eye on pink-granite vanities in the guest-room bathrooms – priced to move at $30 and $45.
“The vanities, they are a killer deal,” Patel said. “Usually they would run around $250 or $300 if I was to get that same kind of vanity. Whatever they have left, I’m going to get everything.”
The Radisson RTP hotel, originally known as the Governors Inn, closed in November after 41 years of operation. Before its seven buildings can be bulldozed in a few weeks, they must be emptied of furniture, frying pans, fitness machines and miscellaneous fixtures that are worth several hundred thousand dollars.
So the doors will open to the public again Thursday for a 30-day liquidation sale. Along with hotel and restaurant owners buying in bulk, the tag sale is expected to attract local folks shopping for everything from ashtrays and place settings to Sleep Number beds ($450 queen, $600 king with wireless remote) and the large landscape prints ($16) that still hang above them in 200 guest rooms.
A bath towel is $3. A desk lamp is $30. For $10 you can drive away with a comforter or a hotel room door – complete with big brass hinges, a room number on the front and a fire escape map on the back.
“We make it all go away,” said Frank S. Long, president of Ohio-based International Content Liquidations Inc. “Our obligation to our client is to leave them with a shell, literally. Not a door, not a carpet, not a stick of furniture. All gone.”
The Governors Inn started out as a first-class hotel in 1972 with bellhops, turn-down service and a white-linen restaurant that never lost its reputation for a good meal. It was privately owned but built to serve the growth and development of RTP itself. The nonprofit foundation that runs RTP bought the 10-acre hotel site last fall and says it will be part of bigger development plans in the future.
For decades, the hotel was the only place in RTP where you could buy a steak or a beer. One Friday-afternoon regular has already put down $600 for the 40-foot granite bar top. If he wants his old bar stool, it can be had for $32.
There are hundreds of banquet tables for sale, and a thousand or so stackable chairs. A big meeting room is stuffed with uncounted coffee mugs, dinner plates, ashtrays and chafing dishes – all with price stickers. While the furniture and fixtures on display Wednesday all appeared to be in very good condition, the vast collection of kitchen gear showed years of hard use.
Ron Hunter worked at the hotel from the week it opened, and he served as general manager from 1995 until the last guest checked out in November. Now he is helping the Research Triangle Foundation dispose of the hotel contents.
As one of the few people who still knows how everything works, Hunter took on the chore Wednesday of brewing coffee for Long’s employees and a few businesspeople shopping for bargains in the hotel where he worked for 41 years.
“It amazes me to see all this,” Hunter said, shaking his head. “You see stuff that you fought and scratched to get, and it’s going for ...,” and he snapped his fingers, “... pennies!”