The hotel in East Liberty closed after coronavirus hit and now may never reopen.By Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Ace Hotel opened five years ago and became an instant hit for couples looking to tie the knot.

But as KDKA investigator Andy Sheehan reports, the hotel’s future is uncertain, and brides- and grooms-to-be want answers.

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It’s the hipster hotel chain known for taking places like the East Liberty YMCA and turning them into temples of chic ambiance. Renee Ware and her fiancé Michael Mayers decided the Ace Hotel was the perfect place for a wedding.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“We love that vibe of the Ace Hotel. We’ve been in them in other cities, and we wanted something a little less traditional,” Ware said.

But it wasn’t meant to be. The hotel closed after coronavirus hit and now may never reopen. And neither the chain nor the building’s ownership group will return the couple’s $13,000 deposit.

“Both of them are basically passing the buck back and forth between who needs to refund people,” Mayers said.

After having to cancel their July wedding, the couple rescheduled for next year. But Ace recently told them that due to a dispute with the hotel’s ownership group, headed by local developer Nate Cunningham, the hotel is likely to close for good.

They advised the couple to look elsewhere to book a wedding and talk to Cunningham about the deposit.

“I started balling when the woman called me from the Ace Hotel just because, obviously, for everyone, it’s been a rough year. And on top of that, finding out you might never get money back,” Ware said.

Reached by phone, Cunningham said on the advice of his attorney, he would have no comment.

Ace Hotel Pittsburgh released a statement to KDKA, saying:

“Ace Hotel Pittsburgh is currently closed, as is the restaurant Whitfield. The length of both closures are currently unknown.

“COVID-19 has affected our industry in unprecedented ways, and Ace Hotel Pittsburgh in particular has experienced significant challenges. As hotel managers, Ace Hotel Group relies on the ownership of our properties to fund hotel operations, as they are obligated to do under our contracts. Despite several requests from Ace, the property’s ownership group has refused to uphold their contractual obligation to fund the hotel.

“Given the questions regarding the reopening of the hotel, we have advised clients with future events to cancel their bookings. Ace has advocated on behalf of our clients regarding the return of their deposits, and will continue to do so with the hotel owner who is liable for the deposits.”

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Mayers says the statement falls short.

“We know that Ace is a global company with over 10 hotels in four counties. So for them to say they can’t make us whole, but also maintain the position they’re fighting for us, seems like a bit of a contradiction to me,” he said.

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Meghan Rodgers and Tristan Wimmer had also planned for an April wedding at the Ace Hotel, but when the pandemic hit, they knew it wasn’t possible.

“They were definitely open to letting us reschedule, but they said we were entitled to a refund,” Rodgers said of the venue.

They say they haven’t seen a penny of the $10,000 they put toward the wedding.

“We were always sort of put off,” Rodgers said. “’We’ll have answers for you next week, next week’ and this went on for months.”

Seemingly unable to get anywhere, Rodgers and Wimmer went to Facebook and started a group for couples in the same boat.

“They started joining the page, two to three couples per day and you just feel bad for people,” Wimmer said.

Now at 21 members and over a dozen posts as of Thursday night, the page has become a place for couples to air their frustrations and look for a solution.

Wimmer says they’ve worked to gather as much information as possible to pass along to the group.

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“In the stories that people have shared with us, sort of the impact that that has on their financial and emotional well-being, it’s pretty heart-wrenching.”