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Recently Purchased Lexington Plaza Waterfront Hotel in Stockton, California to be
Operated Independently as the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel by the
Willis Family Trust dba Stockton Arena Hotel & Conference Center

By Daniel Thigpen, The Record, Stockton, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 04, 2011--STOCKTON -- In December, downtown Stockton's troubled waterfront hotel got a new owner. Now it has a new name.

University Plaza Waterfront Hotel will be easy to remember, as it only exchanges one word with the hotel's previous moniker, the Lexington Plaza Waterfront Hotel.

The change coincides in part with the hotel's efforts to remarket its top-floor condominiums as student lofts, a company official said.

The move also allows the hotel to cut costs by shedding its affiliation with a national brand, though a spokesman for the hotel's owner, Sacramento businessman Patrick K. Willis, said that doesn't signal continued financial struggles. The hotel posted small profits in March and April, said Brian Cooley, a spokesman for the Willis Family Trust, which is doing business as Stockton Arena Hotel and Conference Center LLC.

Operating independently of a recognizable brand shouldn't hurt business because the hotel, on the waterfront, isn't competing with nearby chains, Cooley said. "We have some wherewithal to stand alone as a boutique in downtown," he said. "We thought our fate doesn't need to be tied to a national brand."

The hotel was paying a monthly franchise fee to carry the Lexington name, Cooley said, though he said the intended savings were only part of the decision to change course.

One of the major benefits to a brand, however, is a nationwide reservation system. Cooley said the hotel is now paying for a reservation system run by TravelCLICK, whose clients include names such as the boutique Joie de Vivre Hotels chain and Trump Entertainment Resorts.

The name change will not impact staff and operations, Cooley said.

The seven-story waterfront hotel, near Stockton Arena and other entertainment venues, was built in 2007 by Regent Hotel LLC for $62 million. But financing depended largely on the sale of three floors of condos that never sold.

The hotel's original owner filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008, and late last year, Willis bought the property for about $10 million.

Contact reporter Daniel Thigpen at (209) 546-8254 or Visit his blog at


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Copyright (c) 2011, The Record, Stockton, Calif.

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