Queen Mary

Queen Mary

City officials were told this week that the management team at the Queen Mary hotel and attraction is on its way out.

Tom Modica, government affairs manager in the city manager's office, said that Garrison Investments had told the city that it was severing ties with Delaware North, the hospitality company that has operated the landmark ship since September 2009. However, there was no word about who would replace general manager Uwe Roggenthien and his team, and neither Garrison nor Delaware North officials returned calls seeking comment.

"We think that Delaware North has done an outstanding job managing the ship," Modica said. "We have been told that the management change is an internal business decision by Garrison."

Management of the city-owned ship has been in flux since 2005, when Queen's Seaport Development Inc. (QSDI) declared bankruptcy. QSDI, led by Joseph Prevratil, had brought the ship back to profitability with the help of a 66-year lease, but feuded with city management over rent credits and had other financial setbacks.

After nearly two years of legal wrangling surrounding the bankruptcy, during which QSDI continued to operate the hotel and attraction, a group called Save The Queen won an auction for the long-term lease of the ship and the surrounding 55 acres. Save The Queen principals Jeffrey Klein and Tom Hix went to Garrison Investments to back the $43 million bid it made to take the property over.

Save The Queen chose a group called Hostmark Hospitality Group to operate the Queen Mary. But less than two years later, in January 2009, Save The Queen defaulted on its loan and Garrison took direct control of the lease. Hostmark was out and Delaware North in by September that year.

The announcement this week came as a surprise. When Garrison first signed Delaware North, a company spokesman said he expected the agreement to be for five or six years. And earlier this week, Delaware North announced that it would be taking over management of the "Scorpion," a Soviet nuclear submarine that has been a separate attraction next to the Queen Mary for the last decade.

Roggenthien and his team has spent much of the last year reviewing options for development of the surrounding 55 acres of city-owned land. Roggenthien promoted a summer concert series last year and had lobbied for support to create an outdoor amphitheater there.

Delaware North reportedly will remain in control for the next month or so as a new management team transitions onto the ship.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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