|By Richard Metcalf, Albuquerque Journal,
N.M.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 20, 2013--Well-known Albuquerque hotelier and real-estate investor Jim Long and an out-of-state partner are in the process of acquiring both the 20-story tower that houses the Hyatt Regency in Downtown and the local Hyatt franchise itself.
Long and former Albuquerque resident Chris Smith, now president of Allegiance Realty in Charlotte, N.C., acquired the 22-story Albuquerque Plaza next door in early 2005. Once the purchase of the Hyatt closes, they will own the two tallest buildings in New Mexico.
"We're quite excited to be able to combine the Hyatt property with our existing office building and own the most iconic property in New Mexico," Long told the Journal. "It's the first time it (Hyatt) will be under local ownership and local oversight, so we think that will be a positive move for the hotel."
The 20-story tower at 330 Tijeras NW, which has been a Hyatt since it was built in 1990, went into foreclosure in 2010. Instead of selling the property, lender Bank of America retained ownership. The 395-room Hyatt continued to operate uninterrupted through the foreclosure process.
Long would not disclose the purchase price, but the 20-story tower had an outstanding mortgage of $43 million when it went into foreclosure. The tower has only been on the market for about 60 days, Long said.
Long is CEO of Heritage Hotels & Resorts, which operates two hotels in Albuquerque, three in Santa Fe and one each in Las Cruces and Rio Rico, Ariz. None of Heritage Hotels' properties are franchises or affiliates of a national hotel brand.
Heritage recently closed on the purchase of the former Casa de las Chimeneas, an eight-room boutique hotel in Taos that was listed for sale at a price of $1.2 million.
"We purchased one of the smallest hotels in the state," Long said. "Now we're purchasing one of the biggest."
Once the purchase of the 20-story tower is completed, the Hyatt Regency franchise will not be part of Heritage Hotels, but rather operate as a standalone entity, Long said.
The Hyatt is one of the closest hotels to the Albuquerque Convention Center, currently undergoing a $20 million renovation that, if successful, would undoubtedly drive business to the Hyatt.
Together, the pyramid-shaped roofs of the 390,533-square-foot Albuquerque Plaza and Hyatt Regency are one of Albuquerque's signature images. The two high-rises were built as one project by Beta West, at the time the commercial real-estate arm of US West, now CenturyLink.
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