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Judge to Appoint Trustee to Take Over Former Pittsburgh Hilton;
"Tired of the Animosity" Between the Interests

By Kim Leonard, The Pittsburgh Tribune-ReviewMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 31, 2011--U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery Deller said today he intends to appoint a trustee in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy case centered on the former Pittsburgh Hilton hotel, saying he is "tired of the animosity" between interests competing for control.

The owner of the hotel, renamed the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown, and the hotel's major lender have each filed reorganization plans in the five-month-old bankruptcy case.

A trustee, yet to be named, will have independent control of business decisions at the hotel, attorneys said at a hearing today. The court has been reviewing dueling reorganization plans proposed by hotel owner Dr. Kiran Patel and mortgage holder BlackRock Financial Management Inc.

At today's hearing, Patel attorney David Rudov said franchisee Wyndham Hotels & Resorts has committed another $5 million in addition to $1 million in loans to pay off about 350 creditors of the former Hilton and to pay for completion of an expansion. Rudov said about 70 percent of the creditors are owed less than $10,000.

Hotel workers represented by Unite Here Local 57 also attended the hearing. A union spokesman said the hotel's 175 workers fear for their jobs, amid concerns that current hotel management will not be able to meet operating standards set by Wyndham.

Three weeks ago, Deller gave a mediator one month, until Feb. 15, to try settling the dispute between Patel and BlackRock. But a BlackRock attorney and a court-approved examiner told to sort out the hotel's finances said they weren't optimistic.


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