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First Bank Appoints GF Management to Reopen and Operate the
 Lexington Plaza Waterfront Hotel in Stockton, California

By David Siders, The Record, Stockton, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sep. 9, 2009--STOCKTON -- The Lexington Plaza Waterfront Hotel, foreclosed on and closed last month in a spectacular failing for downtown redevelopment, will reopen Sept. 22, officials said Tuesday.

Atlas Hospitality Group, the Irvine company marketing the hotel for First Bank, which foreclosed on and took possession of the hotel, said GF Management, of Philadelphia, will operate it until it is sold.

Atlas President Alan Reay said the hotel likely will remain part of Vantage Hospitality Group's Lexington Collection initially, though he said Holiday Inn and Marriott International Inc. have said they are interested.

"When we have a new buyer, then the buyer has the choice," Reay said. "We like to keep that open."

A GF Management official did not return a telephone call after business hours Tuesday. Neither did a spokeswoman for First Bank, a Missouri company, immediately respond to a request for comment late Tuesday.

Reay said more than 200 prospective buyers have asked about the hotel. The asking price is just under $18.8 million, he said.

A local hotel official, Robin Paloma, on Tuesday told the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Stockton Alliance of the re-opening, chamber and alliance officials said. Paloma did not return telephone calls for comment.

The hotel, built for $62 million in 2007, was a central part of the reconstruction of downtown, and its closure last month frustrated the chamber and City Hall. Its financing had depended greatly on the sale of upper-floor condominiums, none of which sold in the real estate market's fall.

The hotel went into receivership in summer 2008. Owner Regent Hotel LLC filed for bankruptcy protection in October.

By last month, when the hotel came up at a trustee sale on the steps of the San Joaquin County Courthouse, the property had recently appraised for $22.3 million and was almost $40 million in debt. No one bid on the hotel, and the bank took it over.

Contact reporter David Siders at (209) 943-8580 or dsiders@recordnet.com.

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Copyright (c) 2009, The Record, Stockton, Calif.

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