|By Sara K. Clarke, Orlando
SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 16, 2012--The condominium-hotel that was supposed to be the centerpiece of a large tourism village next to the Orange County Convention Center was sold last week -- with still no village in sight.
The bank-owned Westin Imagine, which was foreclosed upon earlier this year, was sold to a company with ties to a real estate investment firm in Texas.
The 315-room Westin sold for $29.3 million, according to document fees paid to Orange County in connection with the sale. According to a written statement announcing the transaction, the deal includes an additional 24 acres of land surrounding the hotel.
The hotel, at 9501 Universal Blvd., opened in 2008 as the first phase of a project called the Village of Imagine. A 29-acre development that was supposed to include three hotels and a waterside walkway lined with shops and restaurants, the project was initially hailed as Orlando's version of San Antonio's famed River Walk.
But Canadian developer Intrawest Corp. was unable to make the project work and by May 2008 admitted it didn't have the money to complete the village or the remaining hotels. Only the Westin was built, and even it had difficulty, as investors and others interested in buying individual rooms in the condo hotel were unable to obtain financing amid the Great Recession.
Documents filed with the county comptroller's office indicate the hotel was bought by a limited liability corporation called ERGS WI Orlando REO, which is affiliated with Archon Group LP of Irving, Texas. The seller, REDUS Imagine, is a bank-related group whose corporate filings indicate its address of record is in the Wells Fargo & Co. building in Charlotte, N.C.
Calls to the companies involved in the sale were not returned Monday.
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