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Crowne Plaza Near Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, One of 17 Hotels
Owned by Columbia Sussex, Facing Foreclosure

By Tim Bryant, St. Louis Post-DispatchMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 27, 2012--The Crowne Plaza hotel near Lambert-St. Louis International Airport is facing foreclosure next month.

An analyst said Thursday the hotel is among about 17 hotels, all owned by Columbia Sussex Corp., pushed toward default by Wachovia. Foreclosure of the Crowne Plaza is scheduled for Feb. 14.

A hotel representative referred questions to Crescent Hotels and Resorts, of Fairfax, Va., the Crowne Plaza's operator. Crescent's corporate counsel and a spokesman for Columbia Sussex, based in Crestview Hills, Ky., did not return calls seeking comment.

Owner Gary Andreas of H&H Financial Group Inc., a hotel consultant, said the Crowne Plaza, just west of Lambert on Interstate 70 at Lindbergh Boulevard, has struggled recently in the all-important category of revenue per available room, or REVPAR.

"Suffice it to say the REVPAR had been declining for the last three years," he said. "This year it had essentially bottomed out. It was at a level that it would be difficult for a full-service hotel to survive."

Wachovia, now Wells Fargo, was the lender on the package of Columbia Sussex hotels put on a "default schedule" in 2010, Andreas said. That move indicated that the hotels' debt exceeded the amount the lender was willing to refinance, he said.

"It's almost like a preforeclosure," Andreas added.

Efforts to reach a Wells Fargo representative were unsuccessful.

The 351-room Crowne Plaza, built in 1990, opened as a Radisson hotel. The eight-story hotel is notable for the sharp-angled design similar to others that Andreas said were completed in the early 1990s in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.


(c)2012 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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