|By Mark Prado, The Marin Independent
Journal, Novato, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
February 2, 2010 - --Sausalito's landmark Casa Madrona Hotel & Spa was sold on the steps of San Rafael City Hall for $11.4 million Tuesday morning as part of a foreclosure sale.
James P. Knell, chairman of SIMA Management Corp. of Santa Barbara, offered the sole bid for the hotel at the auction, attended by about 30 people.
A SIMA representative could not be reached for comment. The company owns one other hotel, Hotel Oceana in Santa Barbara, and several apartment complexes, business plazas and shopping centers, mostly in Southern California.
"They have been interested in the property for some time," said John Hansen, a San Francisco attorney representing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
The minimum bid set by the FDIC was $11.4 million, and Knell submitted a bid $1 above that.
The historic site was taken over in 2008 by the FDIC when owners defaulted on their loan, causing Georgia-based Integrity Bank to fail and putting the foreclosure in motion. The unpaid loan balance was more than $24 million.
The FDIC had an asset management firm settle unpaid hotel taxes with Sausalito. A Texas-based hotel management firm was installed to oversee day-to-day operations.
The hotel supplies about 40 percent of the city's total hotel tax.
"The city is very anxious to work with the new owner," said Charlie Francis, the city's chief financial officer. "They have been very cooperative and have a good vision for the hotel."
Knell told Francis that his only plan was "to provide the necessary
investment to restore the hotel to its previous status of being a premier hotel."
The assessed value of the three parcels that make up the hotel is $16.6 million, according to the county assessor's office.
The 63-room hotel, in the center of the city on Bridgeway and Bulkley Avenue, includes a 3,000-square-foot spa and 5,000 square feet of event space.
The hillside property, included on the National Register of Historic Places, dates to 1885 when it was constructed as a private mansion for the W.G. Barrett Family of San Francisco.
Sold at the turn of the century and converted into a hotel, the Victorian structure has undergone a couple renovations since the 1980s in which cottages and upscale rooms connected by a series of stairs and hallways were added. All rooms offer balcony views of San Francisco, Angel Island and Richardson Bay.
Read more Business stories at the IJ's Business section.
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