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UPDATE: Read House confirms asbestos, renovation underway

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

UPDATE: The historic Read House Hotel is preparing up for a $25 million makeover that will begin Wednesday.

And earlier Tuesday, the owner of the hotel confirmed asbestos has been found in the basement.

The owner Jonathan Weitz made it clear that the asbestos had nothing to do with this renovation.

“We're not necessarily required to remove that; but for the benefit of our employees, we have hired an asbestos abatement company through our general contractor and any asbestos found in that report is being abated through this renovation,” Weitz says.

Candles, beads and golden hammers shimmered at The Read House on Tuesday. All of it was in honor of the hotel's biggest renovation yet.

“From what we hear from people in Chattanooga, they've been waiting a long time for this day and we're happy to be a part of it,” Weitz says

Weitz and his team bought The Read House in August. But, they started meeting with designers months before.

Weitz says the goal was to bring back elements from the hotel's early years.

“Its heyday was in the 20’s and 30’s,” Weitz says. “So, our entire renovation, not just today, is based on bringing back the roaring 20’s and what The Read House was really built to be, which was a beacon of Chattanooga.”

Channel 3 got to tour a model of what all 241 rooms will soon look like.

“A lot of times when people say they're renovating it's really they're going to put in new carpet and put in new furnishing,” Weitz says. “We are taking every piece of drywall out and so everything on the guest room floors is being removed and starting from scratch.”

While the $25 million makeover is underway, Weitz says they will uphold the hotel's tradition of always keeping its doors open.

“The Manor Building will stay open and The Read House will maintain its streak for the longest, continuously operated hotel,” Weitz says.

Weitz says the first phase of the project should be complete by next summer.

By then construction on the Manor Building will begin.

As far as the asbestos in the basement of the hotel goes, The Read House owner tells Channel 3, it will be taken care of during the renovation.

In October, Channel 3 told you about the investigation by state inspectors, launched after an employee filed a complaint about asbestos and The Read House.

When we reached out to inspectors Tuesday, they told us the investigation is still open and will take eight weeks to complete.


PREVIOUS STORY: Workers with The Read House confirmed that asbestos was found in the basement.

The information was confirmed Tuesday afternoon during a press conference to announce renovations to the historic hotel.

In October, Channel 3 was first to report an investigation of the hotel by TOSHA.

An official with the state department of labor and workforce development tells Channel 3, the investigation is ongoing.

A spokesperson for The Read House says this will be the largest renovation of the hotel since it was built in 1926.


PREVIOUS STORY: TOSHA has launched an investigation into The Read House Historic Inn and Suites.

The investigation comes after a complaint about asbestos from an employee.

TOSHA tells Channel 3 the organization responds to all employee complaints to determine the validity of the allegations made.

The results of the investigation will be ready in about eight weeks.

Channel 3 called the hotel's general manager for comment and had to leave a voicemail. Our call has not been returned.

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