|By Matt Glynn, The Buffalo News,
N.Y.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
April 24, 2010 --The Holiday Inn Resort and Conference Center on Grand Island is in receivership but continuing with its regular business operations.
Royal Bank of Canada, the mortgage holder, brought the foreclosure action on the property at 100 Whitehaven Road, which is owned by American Hospitality Group LLC. The bank says it is owed close to $7 million.
The 263-room hotel was acquired by American Hospitality in 2004 from Lodgian, an Atlanta-based hotel owner, which was disposing of properties it deemed "non-strategic."
State Supreme Court Justice Kevin Dillon has named attorney K. Michael Sawicki the receiver in the case.
"I really don't anticipate there will ever be a time when the property is not operating, because the bank has an interest in keeping it open," Sawicki said.
The property has about 130 employees and its day-to-day operations are not affected, said Joe Browne, the transition general manager for the property, which is being run by Philadelphia-based management company GF Management.
Browne said the hotel will remain a Holiday Inn and will move forward this year with a "brand relaunch" being implemented at Holiday Inn sites, with features like new signs and lighting to modernize its appearance.
Grand Lady Cruises, which offers cruises from a dock behind the hotel, also continues its regular operations, Sawicki said.<>As for the next step for the hotel's ownership, Sawicki said there are a few possibilities. American Hospitality could restructure the loan with Royal Bank or another bank, he said. Another entity could step forward to buy the hotel, or Royal Bank could move for a judgment of foreclosure, leading to a sale. >
Sawicki said he did not know specifics of the hotel's financial problems that led to the bank's action. Maury Zeplowitz of American Hospitality Group declined to comment on the case, citing advice from his attorney. And an attorney for Royal Bank of Canada did not return a call to comment.
The Grand Island hotel, which has a sweeping view of the Niagara River, was built in 1972. When American Hospitality made its purchase in 2004, the group called the property a "jewel," based on its waterfront location, space for banquets and meetings, and fitness club.
Another area Holiday Inn, on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst near the Youngmann Highway, is going into foreclosure, and is expected to be auctioned within the next several months. That hotel is owned by Hart Hotels.
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