|By Sandra Baker, Fort Worth
Star-Telegram, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Feb. 18, 2012--FORT WORTH -- A Minnesota firm that lent the owners of the downtown Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel & Spa $40 million to renovate the two-tower property has posted it for foreclosure.
Dougherty Funding, an affiliate of Dougherty & Co. investment bankers in Minneapolis, filed the posting Feb. 9 on Presidio Hotel Group of Fairfield, Calif. Presidio bought the property in 2006. The posting says that a default occurred under terms of the loan and that the hotel is scheduled to be auctioned on the Tarrant County Courthouse steps March 6.
Guneet Bajwa, Presidio's chief operating officer, said his company is working to refinance the note. He said it's not uncommon for lenders to foreclose given the weak economy and tight lending practices, but he called the filing "something very unexpected for us."
"We're working through it. The property is doing extremely well," Bajwa said.
He declined to say whether the lender called the note before filing, citing confidential talks.
Operations are not affected by the negotiations, Bajwa said, and it's business as usual at the hotel. Revenue is up 14 percent so far this year compared with last year, he said, and quality scores are at their highest levels. Occupancy and room rates are also up, he said.
Presidio Hotel Group bought the hotel, at 1601 Commerce St., in 2006 and undertook a two-year, $48 million renovation of the 429-room property. It added, among other things, an 8,000-square-foot luxury fitness center and spa. The hotel has 10-story and 12-story towers.
The Tarrant Appraisal District values the property at $20.2 million.
The owner paid most of its 2010 property taxes on Jan. 31, but still owes $66,903 for that year, according to the Tarrant County tax assessor/collector's office. In November, Presidio paid half its 2011 property taxes but still owes $297,255 for that year, records show.
Presidio also operates luxury hotels in California and Hawaii.
The hotel was built in 1974 as a Hilton Inn and expanded in 1980 with the second tower. Puson Gch of Indonesia bought it in 1991 from Metropolitan Life Insurance, which got the hotel in a 1988 foreclosure. Puson operated the property as a Ramada until 2004, when it was renamed Fort Worth Plaza Hotel.
The hotel is across from the Fort Worth Convention Center and the Fort Worth Water Gardens on the south end of downtown. Hall of Fame football coach Don Shula opened a Shula's 347 Grill there shortly after the hotel opened.
In some cases, foreclosure postings do not end up in a sale because the parties work out new terms or resolve the default.
Presidio also has a $10.6 million note with Vestin Originations in Las Vegas and a $5.5 million note with RCP Hotel FW, a company of real estate developer Richard Myers, according to deed records.
Last fall, Presidio paid a $110,805 judgment to the United Methodist Church, based in Nashville, which sued in 2009 because it booked $550,000 worth of business at the hotel well in advance of its 2008 national meeting held at the Fort Worth Convention Center for 10 days in the spring. The hotel didn't open until later that summer, forcing the Methodists to find other arrangements and spend on transportation costs to the convention center.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727
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