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Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel Changes Mangement Firm Once Again;
Windsor Capital Group to Run Operations

By Rick Stouffer, The Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 22, 2010--A company hired four months ago to manage the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel was fired last week because of poor performance, an ownership spokesman said Wednesday.

Crescent Hotels & Resorts, of Fairfax, Va., is out and the management arm of Windsor Capital Group Inc., of Santa Monica, Calif., now is onsite to run hotel operations, Jai Lalwani said.

Lalwani said Crescent executives returned to the Hilton on Wednesday morning, saying the company worked for BlackRock Capital, and claiming BlackRock is the property's owner.

New York-based BlackRock Inc., the world's largest money manager, continues to hold a $49.6 million mortgage on the property, Lalwani said when a new ownership was announced in March.

"We told them, 'We own the hotel, BlackRock holds the mortgage,' " Lalwani said yesterday. "When we told them we were going to call the police, they left."

Shubh Hotels Pittsburgh LLC, the Hilton's owner until paperwork on new ownership officially is filed, yesterday filed a lawsuit against Crescent in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

Details of the lawsuit were not available from the court late yesterday.

"Crescent came in here and did a lousy job managing the property," said Lalwani, part of the soon-to-be ownership group headed by Tampa physician and philanthropist Kirin Patel. Other owners include Atul Bisaria, CEO of Shubh Hotels, and Miami condominium developer Jorge Perez.

Crescent CEO Michael George couldn't be reached to comment.

Bisaria said yesterday that eight longtime Hilton employees, who worked for him since he acquired the Hilton more than three years ago, had quit under Crescent's management..

"I've known the Windsor people for many year," Bisaria said. "They are running my Marriott property in (Lincoln) Nebraska."

Concerning new management at the Hilton, Hilton Corp. spokesman John Forrest Ales said he "couldn't comment on ongoing discussions with franchisees."

Lalwani reiterated what construction management executive Frank Amedia of TC Property Solutions said last week -- that the long-stalled Hilton construction project is on track to resume.

"We start construction this coming Monday," Lalwani said. "Comm Steel is doing the work, and we will meet our December deadline."

Comm Steel of Cleveland previously fabricated and erected the existing steel skeleton at the hotel site, under the direction of P.J. Dick Inc., project construction manager.

Amedia said his company hired structural engineers who concluded that while the existing skeleton is safe, it wasn't built to the specifications called for in architect Steve Berry's drawings.

Lalwani said Amedia's Miami-based TC Property Solutions has taken over project management for P.J. Dick.

"We'll use Amedia's construction management company," Lalwani said.

P.J. Dick has a $1 million lien against Shubh Hotels Pittsburgh LLC. The company's contract administrator, Dale Lostetter, said last week that P.J. Dick isn't sure what's going on concerning the Hilton.

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To see more of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/.

Copyright (c) 2010, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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