The Crowne Plaza Philadelphia Downtown (they've replaced "Center City" with "Downtown" in its name) will open its expanded lobby, 1800 Market St. in a "grand event" with the Eddie Bruce Band, Wednesday, 5-7 p.m., marking $1.5 million in elevator improvements, updates to meeting and guest rooms, and a  $300,000 project to double the lobby, to 3,000 square feet, to beckon business visitors. The space was reapportiond fom the restaurant, says general manager Bob Cosgrove.

The hotel, one of five Crowne Plazas in the area (they're also in the 'burbs at Cherry Hill, City Ave., Valley Forge, Bensalem), averaged 300 guests/day in its 445 rooms over the past year, and employs 150, says Cosgrove, who's been there since it opened in 1998, the last six years in the top job. The hotel is owned by Hospitality Properties Trust, Newton, Mass., and is a franchise of InterContinental Hotels, Atlanta, which also operates Holiday Inn.

Slow times for tourism, business travel, and hotels generally. But "I'm happy we have an ownership group that continues to put money into this and keep us competitive," Cosgrove told me.