Improvements of up to $20 million will take place at the Tucson University Park Hotel over the next 18 months.

Marriott Hotels has re-established its relationship with the Tucson University Park Hotel after a yearlong breakup, the company announced on Valentine’s Day.

The chain has entered a 20-year franchise agreement effective March 1.

Last year, the hotel became independent after the original 20-year franchise agreement expired and the Marriott marquee was covered up.

The 250-room hotel, at 880 E. Second St. near the University of Arizona, opened in 1996. It is owned by Georgia-based Atrium Holdings,

The nine-story hotel sits on land owned by the Marshall Foundation that is leased to Atrium.

The temporary split happened because the owners were unable to get refinancing in the time frame set by Marriott, said Mark VanBuren, the hotel’s general manager. Once that was resolved, the new agreement was reached.

“We are excited to be working with Marriott International once again as they have proven to be a trusted and valuable partner over the past two decades,” VanBuren said.

In the next 18 months, improvements of between $15 and $20 million will be underway. Public spaces will be redone and guest rooms will be upgraded.

Already, the rocks and river features in the lobby have been removed.

The hotel will continue to operate during renovations, VanBuren said.

Having signed a new agreement, the hotel will once again be able to offer Marriott Rewards. Those business guests who depend on the rewards were the only dropoff the hotel saw during its independence, VanBuren said. But, university-related visitors kept business going.

“Our location is probably one of the best ones you could ever hope for,” VanBuren said.

Marriott’s newest Tucson hotel, AC Marriott, opened last year on Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Marriott has also announced it will add its Moxy Hotel to downtown Tucson, above the Depot Garage, just west of Hotel Congress.

Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at