|By Mark Davis, The Kansas City Star,
Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
February 20, 2009 - A Chicago lender plans to sell 15 Value Place hotels, including three in the Kansas City area, to settle business debts tied to developer and banker Donald H. Bell Sr.
Bell and his family own Olathe-based Security Savings Bank and have developed a number of Value Place extended-stay hotels as franchise operators.
Chicago-based GEM VP Lending LLC said in a published notice that it would sell 15 of the Bells' Value Place properties that secure debts of seven Bell-related companies. GEM VP also plans to sell a parcel that was to house another Value Place hotel.
Among the properties listed for the sale are the Bells' Value Place hotels in Liberty, Lenexa and Mission. Others listed for the sale are in North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, Iowa, Maryland and Louisiana.
The sale does not include other Bell-owned Value Place properties.
Frank Bell, president of the family's Value Place company, said attorneys for both sides were negotiating a workout of the situation. Bell said he could not discuss the company's condition other than to add that a workout would prevent the sale, which the notice said is scheduled for March 17 in Chicago.
GEM VP officials did not respond to inquiries.
The Bell group had acquired franchises from Wichita-based Value Place LLC to build and operate the hotels.
There are 133 Value Place hotels open nationally.
Greg Kossover, chief executive officer of the Wichita company, said he was familiar with the situation between the Bell group and GEM VP.
"This is a very good thing for the brand and our franchise community," Kossover said. "The properties that are listed for sale are either open or under construction. The open properties are well managed, and the sites under construction are good sites.
"This portfolio performs above average."
He declined to discuss why above-average performing properties would be up for sale by the lender.
The Bell family's hotel operations span at least a dozen states and involve myriad companies.
The notice of the creditor's sale does not say how much the Bell-related businesses owe GEM VP.
Courthouse records, however, show that the Liberty Value Place hotel had been pledged in November 2006 to secure a $25 million loan. The loan and security agreement were between GEM VP and The Bell VP Groups LLC, of which Frank Bell is president.
The Bell VP Groups also had pledged at least three other Value Place properties, each in Texas, to secure the $25 million loan. Those Texas properties, however, are not listed in the lender's sale notice.
At least some of the Bells' Value Place properties are managed by another Kansas City area business, M&M Properties Management Inc., which was formed in August 2005 and specializes in managing the Bell VP properties.
Its Web site lists 26 Value Place properties in 10 states. Eleven of those are listed in the lender's upcoming sale.
The sale list also includes four other Bell-related Value Place hotels not shown on the M&M Properties Web site.
M&M Properties officials could not be reached.
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