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Presidio Hotel Group Planning Acquisition, Renovation and Rebranding of the
434 room Fort Worth Plaza Hotel; Originally Opened in 1974
as the Fort Worth Hilton Inn

By Sandra Baker, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News 

FORT WORTH — January 18, 2006 - Presidio Hotel Group in California is buying the Fort Worth Plaza Hotel at 1601 Commerce St. and plans to upgrade the property to gain the Sheraton Hotel flag. 

Guneet Bajwa, Presidio’s executive vice president, said Tuesday that the company is completing its due diligence review of the 434-room property and expects to close the deal in mid-February. The project, though, got a big boost Tuesday when the company received approval from Sheraton, he said. 

This will be the first Texas property for the Fairfield, Calif.-based company, which has hotels in California, Hawaii and Oklahoma. 

Presidio was attracted to the property because of its large size — two 12-story towers and other areas totaling 284,049 square feet — and the company’s desire to be a part of Fort Worth, Bajwa said. 

"The renovations will befit the city," Bajwa said. "The city needs upscale rooms, and that’s what the city will get. We want to be a part of it." 

The hotel was built in 1974 as a Hilton Inn. It was expanded in 1980 with the addition of a second tower of 200 rooms. The property has undergone several renovations and remodelings. 

The current owner is a limited partnership called Puson Gch. of Indonesia, which bought the hotel in 1991 from Metropolitan Life Insurance. Metropolitan Life got the hotel in a 1988 foreclosure. 

In 2004, the owners dropped the Ramada flag in favor of Fort Worth Plaza Hotel. At one time, the owners owed thousands of dollars in unpaid bed taxes. They have been trying to sell the hotel for several years. 

Bajwa said his company has been talking with the city’s economic development staff for a couple of months about possible tax abatements on the project. He declined to say what the company is asking for. 

In 2004, Realty Capital Partners in Colleyville joined Harrell Hospitality of Addison to buy and spend as much as $15 million to renovate the hotel. The Fort Worth City Council had already approved $12.9 million in tax incentives for the project. But the deal apparently fell through and the incentive package expired. 

The hotel property is across from the Fort Worth Convention Center and the Fort Worth Water Gardens, on the south end of downtown. 
"The reason we chose Sheraton of all the brands, the Sheraton brand is best positioned to take care of convention business," Bajwa said. 

Although Bajwa said he could not be specific, architectural renderings filed with the city Tuesday during a Downtown Design Review Board meeting show significant changes to the building’s exterior. The renovations will involve new stucco facades and extensive landscaping to upgrade the property, among other things. 

Many of the construction details are still being discussed and no final plans have been made for the hotel’s renovation, which will cost a "substantial" amount, Bajwa said. 

"We haven’t made all of our decisions," he said. "There are various scenarios before us. We will know more in the coming months." 

The hotel industry in downtown Fort Worth is undergoing a tremendous amount of change. Among the larger projects is that of Omni Hotels in Irving which plans a 608-room hotel across the street from the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau. Pearl Investments in Fort Worth recently bought the former Clarion Hotel at Fifth and Commerce streets and has closed the building to remodel the structure into a 240-room upscale Hotel Indigo. And Remington Hotel Corp. in Dallas this week is expected to announce major changes to the Radisson Plaza at 815 S. Main St. that will turn that hotel into a Hilton. 

Presidio, founded in 2000, has five hotels in California, operating under the Holiday Inn, Marriott and Hilton flags. It has a Courtyard by Marriott in Kapa’a, Hawaii, and a Crowne Plaza in Tulsa, Okla. 

Copyright (c) 2006, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail Unknown:TRT, NYSE:AHT, NYSE:BA, Unknown:RFLY, 

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