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Shuttered 100 room Howard Johnson Motel in Colton, California
 Sold at Auction for $4.5 million

The Business Press, Ontario, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 28, 2007 - A Long Beach man has purchased a shuttered Howard Johnson's motel in Colton at auction for $4.25 million.

Paul Bawa, a self-described commercial real estate broker, said he plans to refurbish the dilapidated property at 450 Sperry Drive and open it as a hotel.

"Maybe a Days Inn or a Comfort Inn, something like that," he said. "We want to attach a big-name chain to it. But it will definitely be a hotel again."

Bawa outbid about 50 other potential buyers for the 3.75-acre site, which was in receivership.

Bawa declined to say how much it will cost to restore the facility or when renovation might begin.

The court-ordered auction was held May 23 at the former hotel site.

Bidding began at $1.5 million. All would-be buyers had to submit a $150,000 check in order to participate in the bidding.

The auction was conducted by Braun, an appraisal and auctioneering firm in Los Angeles.

Bawa has 60 days to complete the purchase. Two back-up bids were submitted in case the sale falls through, but such a turn of events is unlikely, according to several Braun officials.

The site is next to Interstate 10 and consists of three buildings, including the shuttered hotel of approximately 100 rooms

Colton officials are pleased that the property -- which hasn't functioned as a hotel for about 10 years -- is going to be redeveloped, Planning Manager Andres Soto said.

"It looks like this will move forward and we're excited about that," Soto said. "We still need to look at what [Bawa] is proposing, but we want to see some development there. It's a critical piece of property that is visible from two freeways."

Colton officials approved the site for a hotel renovation a year ago. That approval expired the day of the auction. Bawa met with Colton officials after the auction and asked for a one-year extension of that approval, a request that was granted, Soto said.

Auctioneer Todd Wohl, who has conducted large-scale commercial auctions for more than 20 years, said the bidding went higher than he expected..

Large properties like hotels and office buildings that fall into disrepair often are auctioned off, particularly if they end up in receivership, said Anthony Fitzgerald, Braun's director of real estate.

Unlike the residential market, auctions of commercial properties aren't a sign of a slow market, Fitzgerald said.

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Business Press, Ontario, Calif.

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