|By Richard E. Baldwin, The Buffalo News,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 23, 2010 --NIAGARA FALLS -- The 391-room Crowne Plaza Hotel on Third Street -- which had fallen behind on payments of its taxes, mortgage and other debts -- was reclaimed today by its mortgage lender, Gramercy Investment Trust of New York.
The hotel, in which the state invested $6 million about four years ago, has been under the control of a court-appointed receiver while it was in foreclosure. However, it has continued to operate, and today's foreclosure sale is not expected to have any immediate effect on its operations.
Gramercy Trust purchased the hotel at the foreclosure auction. The lender had started foreclosure proceedings on its $30 million mortgage in March 2009.
The hotel, which is near Niagara Falls State Park and across Third Street from the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, underwent a $21 million public-private investment to renovate the property in 2006 and 2007. Its owner, NS Partners, bought the property for $14.5 million and updated it from a Holiday Inn Select. A sports bar and grill were added at that time.
Empire State Development Corp., the state's economic development agency in the Falls, contributed a $6 million grant for the renovation.
The foreclosure proceeding began just a few months after Namwest, one of the two partners that owns NS Partners, filed for financial reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Law. NS Partners, a partnership between Namwest and Sentry Hospitality, was not included in Namwest's bankruptcy filing.
Namwest is a Phoenix-based developer that primarily has developed condominiums and other properties in Arizona.
Since the Crowne Plaza was not included in Namwest's bankruptcy filing, Sentry Hospitality has continued to manage the hotel during its own foreclosure proceeding.
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