|By Kim Leonard, The Pittsburgh
Tribune-ReviewMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 13, 2011--Work on a long-unfinished addition to Pittsburgh's largest hotel could resume in June, now that a judge has said he'll approve a plan for the owner of the former Hilton to exit bankruptcy protection.
Since the Downtown hotel became enmeshed in a bankruptcy court battle in September, its brand affiliation and name have changed to the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown.
Shubh Hotels Pittsburgh LLC transferred its equity in the property to Tampa businessman Dr. Kiran Patel. And major lender BlackRock Financial Management Inc. moved from foreclosing on the hotel to restructuring the $49.6 million mortgage.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Jeffery Deller's indication Thursday that he'll OK a reorganization plan means a three-story addition that has been an eyesore facing Point State Park could be completed within 10 months. Then, "Pittsburgh can be proud of it," Patel said.
Frank Amedia, asset manager for Patel, said a staircase from the lobby to the second floor could be rebuilt 120 days after the bankruptcy plan gets its final OK. The stairs provide additional access to second-floor conference rooms.
Shops are planned on the first floor of the addition, and the hotel is talking with "high-end steak houses" about locating there, Amedia said.
An extension of banquet facilities on the second floor will face the park, and a swimming pool on the third floor will tie into an existing fitness center. Amedia said the bankruptcy exit plan provides $2.7 million for the work, with $1 million from Patel and $1.7 million from BlackRock.
Shubh bought the 712-room hotel from Hilton Hotels Corp. in 2006 for $28 million but struggled to pay for renovations. Hilton pulled its franchise from the property in September, citing failed inspections. That prompted BlackRock's foreclosure and the bankruptcy filing. The hotel became a Wyndham in November.
Deller denied requests from Shubh CEO Atul Bisaria and former hotel consultant Jai Lalwani to have their claims allowed for the purpose of voting on the plan to exit bankruptcy. Nearly all of the 58 creditors issued ballots voted for the plan, which reorganizes $80 million in debt.
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