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Buyer for Artisan Hotel in Downtown El Paso, Texas?
Atlantic Hotels Waiting on News of National Branding;
With No Brand - No Deal and City will Foreclose

By Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sept. 27, 2011--A Dallas company expects to know soon if it will buy the Artisan Hotel building Downtown.

If the sale falls through, the city of El Paso would start foreclosure proceedings on the building, at 325 N. Kansas, to sell it for unpaid taxes, said Carmen Perez, an El Paso lawyer who handles tax cases for the city.

Perry Molubhoy, president of Atlantic Hotels, which operates five brand-name hotels in Dallas, said last week that he expects to hear in the next two weeks if Atlantic will get a national brand for the Artisan building.

"If we don't get one of the brands, we wouldn't proceed with the sale," Molubhoy said.

Atlantic has until Nov. 15 to buy the bankrupt, 126-room hotel from a Las Vegas investors group for $2 million, or let its sales agreement die, Molubhoy said.

The company is seeking a Marriott Courtyard or Aloft, a new brand in the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Group, for the Artisan building.

The Artisan closed in March 2010 after a rocky five months of operation by Douglas Da Silva, its controversial Las Vegas owner.

A federal bankruptcy court judge in Las Vegas this month approved letting the investors group auction off the hotel's contents, which includes art reproductions covering many of its ceilings and walls. Money from the auction will go to pay up to $80,000 in personal property taxes owed to the city, the court order shows. An auction date hasn't been set yet, but it's likely to be held in November, said El Paso auctioneer Walter Parker, whose

company will handle the sale.

The city is owed $488,742 in real and personal property taxes, including interest and penalties, for the Artisan, Perez said.

A foreclosure sale would need to at least bring in enough money to cover the city's unpaid taxes, Perez said. The city could bid on the property at a foreclosure sale if city officials wanted, she said. If the building isn't sold in a foreclosure auction, the city would hold it in a trust and try to sell it, she said.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at vkolenc@elpasotimes.com; 546-6421.

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(c)2011 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

Visit the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) at www.elpasotimes.com

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