Hyatt Hotels will not contribute to skywalks memorial

Hyatt Hotels Corp., which no longer operates the hotel at Crown Center that was the site of the 1981 skywalks collapse that killed 114 people, will not contribute to the memorial planned for a park across the street.

The former general manager of the Hyatt Regency Crown Center said the decision was based on the fact that the hotel is now a Sheraton and Hyatt has left Kansas City.

“We are disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to continue to operate the hotel and as such, Hyatt will not be making a donation to the Skywalk Memorial,” Rusty Macy said in a letter to Brent Wright, a member of the skywalk foundation board. “We appreciate the opportunity and wish the Foundation only the best in achieving its goals to open the memorial.” Neither Macy nor Hyatt’s corporate office returned phone calls Wednesday.

Frank Freeman, foundation board president, said today he now believes Hyatt never intended to make a contribution despite its words of support.

“We’re extremely disappointed by the decision,” Freeman said. “We were led to believe there would be a donation. We are completely stunned and shocked that the Hyatt left town without any kind of donation and did not even say a word about the memorial.”

Macy, who is now general manager of the Hyatt Regency Inside Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, said in his letter that he and Wright had discussed a donation last spring. Macy said at the time the Hyatt would take the request under consideration and make a decision by the end of the year. Crown Center Redevelopment Corp., which owns the hotel where the skywalks collapsed, delayed announcing the management change until after the 30th anniversary of the disaster on July 17 this year. The Sheraton Crown Center opened Dec. 1.

The Hallmark Corporate Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Crown Center’s parent company, has donated $25,000 and pledged another $25,000 toward the memorial. Freeman said the total budget has dropped to just over $600,000 because of in-kind donations. The foundation still needs to raise about $230,000 but leaders remain hopeful they can begin construction in the spring and have the memorial in place by the 31st anniversary. The site is east of the hotel in Hospital Hill Park.

For donation information go to www.skywalkmemorial.org

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