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El Paso's Artisan Hotel In Bankruptcy Yet Again

By Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times, TexasMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Feb. 01, 2011--The closed Artisan Hotel Downtown is in bankruptcy again.

The Las Vegas-based investors group, which bought the hotel building in a foreclosure sale in November for $250,000, and has been trying to sell it, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization on Dec. 30 in federal bankruptcy court in Las Vegas, court documents show.

The hotel, at 325 N. Kansas, was in Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy under its previous owner, Douglas Da Silva. The Las Vegas hotel operator opened 73 of the hotel's 105 rooms for a rocky five months last year before closing the hotel in March.

The investors group operating as 325 Paso Holdings LLC, is tied to Integrated Financial Associates, or IFA, a Las Vegas mortgage broker which put together a group of investors that lent Da Silva and the hotel almost $6 million.

The bankruptcy filing lists $384,726 in unpaid taxes on the hotel building, and part of $5.7 million in loans to Da Silva's company as part of its debt.

City tax office records show the Artisan owes more than $417,000 in property taxes and late fees to the city, county and other taxing agencies.

City officials are looking at options for collecting those taxes, according to a statement issued by the city.

In December, before the bankruptcy was filed, Timothy Deters, co-founder of NAC Development Co., a Las Vegas real estate development company, and a consultant for Integrated Financial Associates, told the El Paso Times he was trying to sell the hotel building.

He said some El Paso and national hotel operators had shown interest.

Deters and officials with Integrated Financial Associates were not available for comments Monday on the bankruptcy filing and the status of the Artisan building.

Jignesh Domadia, who owns and operates with partners the Best Western Airport Inn and Ramada Suites in El Paso, said he offered to buy the Artisan building about four weeks ago for $1 million. But a representative of NAC Development said it had a $1.7 million offer, Domadia said.

Domadia said he could not increase his offer because he estimated it would cost about $2 million to renovate the hotel so it could become part of a major hotel chain.

Gordon Foster, an officer for Best Real Estate in El Paso, and property manager for a trust that sold the hotel to Da Silva, said much of the 12th floor of the building was left demolished by Da Silva. Some of the plumbing will probably need to be replaced, Foster said. Water to the hotel's fire sprinklers is shut off, he said. The fourth-floor, outdoor swimming pool also is in bad condition.

Foster keeps tabs on the Artisan building because he manages the adjacent office building, 300 E. Main, and parking garage owned by the Sullivan/Crosby Trust. The trust has argued that Da Silva did not honor a contract for using parking spaces in its office parking garage, and owes it thousands of dollars for that contract.

Da Silva bought the long-vacant Artisan building in 2006 for $1.6 million and did extensive renovations, including adding hundreds of art reproductions that replicated another Artisan Hotel he then owned in Las Vegas. That hotel was foreclosed last year, and obtained by a hotel operating group.

Da Silva kept the hotel closed for several years for undisclosed reasons, and operated it for a rocky five months last year before closing it. Artisan employees said they were not paid for several weeks and filed a claim in bankruptcy court.

Vic Kolenc may be reached at; 546-6421.


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