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Owners of Three Tucson, Arizona Hotels File for Bankruptcy Protection
in Effort to Stave Off Scheduled Auction

By Dale Quinn, The Arizona Daily Star, TucsonMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

June 07, 2011--THREE HOTELS -- held by a real estate investor whose portfolio includes several prominent, financially troubled Tucson properties -- have filed for bankruptcy protection.

With an online auction looming, the companies that own Hampton Inn & Suites, TownePlace Suites by Marriott Tucson and La Posada Lodge & Casitas each filed for Chapter 11, or reorganization, bankruptcy protection Friday. That filing generally protects a debtor from legal action, such as a foreclosure, while it works out a way to repay its creditors.

All three hotels are at the southeast corner of North Oracle and West Rudasill roads.

Michael J. Hanson is listed as a general partner in each of the three hotels' bankruptcy filings.

The three hotels, called the Hanson portfolio, have already been scheduled for an online auction at www.Auction.com, the website announced Mon-day.

The auction is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. today and end at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Auction.com, which is hired by banks to unload nonperforming assets, is selling the note for the three properties. It says the nonperforming loan's current balance is $20.2 million and it had an original balance of $21.3 million.

The starting bid is $5 million.

Rick Weinberg, a spokesman with Auction. com, couldn't say how the bankruptcy filing would affect the upcoming auction.

"Auction.com was hired by this bank to facilitate the auction of hundreds of hotels across the country, and it just happens to include these ones," Weinberg said.

Hampton Inn's filing, under a company called Saunders Hotels LLC, lists $9.7 million in liabilities and $5.2 million in assets; TownePlace Suites, under a company called Saunders Rudasill Hotel LLC, reported $6.9 million in liabilities and $5.5 million in assets; and La Posada, filed under a company named Trails End Lodge LLC, shows $3.9 million in liabilities and $1.9 million in assets.

Attorney Eric Slocum Sparks filed the voluntary bankruptcy petitions.

Hanson, who has filed for personal bankruptcy protection, has run into cash-flow problems because he acquired much of his real estate portfolio in 2007 when property values peaked, and he had to take on substantial debt to finance the purchases. During the recession, the hospitality industry has struggled as room rates plunged, many people cut back on leisure travel and convention business slowed.

With credit tight, the chances of refinancing such assets were slim.

DID YOU KNOW?

Michael J. Hanson's company, Transwest Partners/ NCH Corp., also owns the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa and the Doubletree Hotel Tucson at Reid Park.

The Westin La Paloma filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November, and the Doubletree filed May 26. Creditors on those properties had also begun to move toward foreclosure.

Other commercial properties operated by Hanson have also struggled. Gallery Row, a prominent shopping center featuring art galleries at East Skyline Drive and North Campbell Avenue, also recently received notice it had been scheduled for a foreclosure sale.

Contact reporter Dale Quinn at dquinn@azstarnet.com or 573-4197.

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To see more of The Arizona Daily Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.azstarnet.com.

Copyright (c) 2011, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com.



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