|By Matt Phillips, The Bakersfield Californian|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
July 21, 2004 - The Los Angeles-based company seeking to buy downtown's Holiday Inn Select is excited about the local market.
"Our company thought Bakersfield was a very good investment," said Joseph Fan, president of L.A.-based Brighton Management.
Fan hopes to buy the hotel for an undisclosed sum from Springfield, Mo.-based hotel management firm John Q. Hammons Hotels Inc.
Fan declined to disclose the sale price, citing confidentiality agreements.
The current assessed value of the property is $9,051,790, said Ron Stout, an appraiser with Kern County Assessors office.
The sale isn't a done deal. The city still must approve the purchase. The City Council is set to vote on it at tonight's meeting.
City approvals aren't usually required for real estate purchases. But the Holiday Inn Select is a special circumstance.
The hotel's original developers walked away from the project in the late 1980s after financing fell through.
That left an ugly unfinished steel structure downtown for about five years, said Alan Tandy, the city manager.
The seven-story blight stayed there until the early 1990s when the city partnered with Hammons Hotels to finish the building. The city offered incentives to Hammons, including land and federal grant money.
As part of the development deal, the city received the right to approve a change of hotel ownership.
"The purpose of having the right to approve the sale is to assure that the goal of having a quality vibrant, downtown convention center hotel is achieved," Tandy wrote in an administrative report.
Because the hotel is actually connected to the downtown convention center, it's important for the city.
"It can't be replaced basically, so we certainly want to have an outstanding working relationship," said Donna Kunz, economic development director for the city of Bakersfield.
If the deal goes through, Fan says he plans to spend $2 million to $2.5 million renovating the Holiday Inn.
Fan already has plans. He wants to buy new sheets, linens, bedding and furniture for the hotel. He also wants to replace the carpeting.
Fan said he also plans to turn the hotel's bar into a themed sports bar.
"I think we're missing something like that in downtown," Fan said.
If the deal goes through, Brighton Management would own six hotel properties in California, Fan said.
Tandy, Bakersfield's city manager, hopes Brighton's smaller portfolio of properties means the company will pay close attention to the Holiday Inn Select.
For now Fan is just looking forward to closing on the building.
"We're hoping to close it as soon as possible, because this deal has dragged on a little longer than anybody anticipated," Fan said.
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