|By Dale Quinn, The Arizona Daily Star,
TucsonMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 13, 2012--Apartments-and-hotels owner Humberto S. Lopez bought the Clarion Hotel near the Tucson airport and plans to convert it into a Best Western.
Lopez bought the property at 6801 S. Tucson Blvd. for $4.5 million through a company called HSL Airport Hotel LLC. The seller was TCH Servicing LLC, according to documents filed in the Pima County Recorder's Office.
HSL is in talks with Best Western to bring the hotel up to the brand's standards, said Omar Mireles, HSL's executive vice president.
The Clarion acquisition is part of an effort by Lopez -- who owns Hotel Arizona downtown and apartment complexes across the state -- to broaden his hotel portfolio.
He recently purchased the Embassy Suites Tucson Williams Center, 5335 E. Broadway, out of bankruptcy.
Lopez is also angling for an ownership stake in the financially troubled Doubletree Hotel Tucson at Reid Park, 445 S. Alvernon Way. If his plan is approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Lopez will pay $2.1 million to fund the reorganization plan of the bankrupt company that now owns the hotel.
Like other properties around Tucson, the Clarion's value has taken a hit in recent years. Its former owners, Kyu Yeol Chung and Myung Ja Chung, paid $13.4 million for the hotel and some vacant land in March 2008.
In August 2010 a foreclosure was filed saying the hotel's owner had defaulted on an $8.1 million loan on the property. The hotel was then taken over by a receiver, and the debt was sold to TCH Servicing.
HSL was able to acquire the property at a low enough price to make it a worthwhile purchase, Mireles said.
"It sold for well below replacement cost," he said.
Lopez's acquisitions come at the same time he's asking the Tucson City Council to let him keep sales taxes generated at his downtown hotel and use that cash to pay for renovations there.
Contact reporter Dale Quinn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4197.
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