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Developer RJ York Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy; Had Proposed a 245-room
 Westin Hotel as Part of $100 million Development in Clayton, Missouri

By Tim Bryant, St. Louis Post-DispatchMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

February 3, 2010 --The future of the proposed Westin Hotel in Clayton grew cloudy Tuesday when the developer filed for bankruptcy protection.

RJ York SSG LLC filed the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization just before a scheduled foreclosure by Premier Bank, which lent the developer $8.1 million in 2007 to buy the site for the proposed hotel at Maryland and Central avenues.

Robert Kramer, managing member of RJ York Central, did not return a call seeking comment. He has proposed a 15-story, 245-room Westin as the major part of a $100 million development in downtown Clayton.

Premier Bank moved to foreclose last month after it was unable to work out an agreement to redo the loan, which has been overdue since last summer, said the bank's lawyer, Michael Parnas.

Premier will continue to pursue its money in U.S. Bankruptcy Court but, for now, the developer's action Tuesday "stops us dead in our tracks," Parnas said.

On Monday, the bank sued RJ York SSG, Kramer, RJ York Development, RJ York Central and related entities to collect the loan. As of Jan. 25, principal and interest totaled more than $8.2 million, according to the suit filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court.

Last year, York got permission from Clayton officials for a one-year delay until this June 9 to start construction of the hotel and an adjoining parking garage at Maryland and Central avenues. Kramer said last month that financing for the project was nearly complete and that construction could start this summer.

RJ York SSG's bankruptcy petition shows it is a combination of Kramer's RJ York Central LLC and SSG Realty Ventures LLC. SSG Realty Ventures is headed by Nabeel Gareeb, who resigned last year as chief executive of MEMC Electronic Materials Inc., of O'Fallon, Mo.

Parnas said Premier, based in Jefferson City, is not suing Gareeb because he did not personally guarantee any of the bank's loan to RJ York SSG.

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Copyright (c) 2010, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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