Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hotel Indigo has new owner

Bob Winston, president of Winston Hospitality in Raleigh, N.C., snaps up troubled hotels with various financial woes at bargain prices — then tries to renew their life.

For his latest venture, he came to Nashville.

Winston on Friday bought a Hotel Indigo operation — a boutique hotel on Union Street downtown — for$14 million in a bankruptcy sale, according to Davidson County property records.

That Hotel Indigo location, a $30 million investment that struggled amid the recession, sold its property and building for $11.8 million, and the remaining sum was attributable to the hotel’s business operations, confirmed Robert Waldschmidt, the sale’s trustee.

The hotel’s former property owner, 315 Union Street Holdings LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December in an effort to broker a deal with Branch Banking & Trust of Atlanta to restructure a troubled loan.

A deal was never reached.

Hotel Indigo, with 96 rooms and 3,000 square feet of meeting space, opened in two historic buildings: 301 Union and 315 Union, which were combined. The 301 Union structure, built in 1909, was formerly the American Trust Building; the other, built in 1926, was the Nashville Trust Co.

Mark Lineberry, the hotel’s former property owner, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The Hotel Indigo on West End Avenue was not involved in Friday’s developments.

Buyer plans overhaul

Winston, who manages five upscale hotels, mostly in the South, said the flailing Hotel Indigo was “right down the middle of our sweet spot.”

He continued: “We take over loans in markets all over the country that have been in financial trouble. It’s very difficult to have really robust sales with a hotel in bankruptcy. But we bring in our team and reposition the business.”

Earlier this year, the company acquired two yet-to-open luxury hotels in Connecticut with troubled loans.

Here, Winston has some overhauling in mind. In particular, he plans to install reinforced windowpanes throughout the building becaus, he said, customers often complain about the level of noise.

Winston’s additional renovations to the Indigo building will be “in the millions,” he said.

“The hotel itself is a great box,” Winston said. “But because of cost overruns and other issues associated with the building, it just got overleveraged.”

Winston suggested that the investment, his first in Nashville, signals an acute interest in the local hospitality market.

“We’ve been looking for the right project in Nashville for years,” Winston said. “And we’d like to add to our portfolio in Nashville. There are some other potential opportunities we’re now considering.”