Tuesday, June 10, 2008

New “boutique” hotel leaves a lot of questions unanswered

Posted By on Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 5:46 AM

Any deal involving Jimmy Dimora also involves way more than meets the eye.
Yesterday’s PD featured a front-page story about a new luxury hotel that plans to move into the old Ameritrust Tower downtown. With glowing optimism, the article predicts that in just two years, a 140-room “boutique” hotel could be occupying the East 9th Street building that’s been vacant for years. There’s only one small problem. This is the Ameritrust Tower we’re talking about. In the last few years, its fate has been as fickle as Oprah’s waist line, with deal after deal falling through. Demolish it to make room for the new county headquarters! Market it desperately to developers when the HQ plan falls through! Oops, no private developer can afford to buy it…or can he? We’ve just got to clean up a little asbestos before he’ll take it off our hands… Now, supposedly, developer Doug Price and his K&D Group are going to buy the whole complex — the tower and neighboring buildings -- and remake them into a hotel, apartments and offices. But as of April, the K&D Group had only put $500,000 down toward the purchase price of $35 million. It had six months to close the deal and take over ownership from the county. That was two months ago. Today’s story now says only that the company “hopes to make the purchase before year’s end.” Hmm. That’s six more months away -- in an economy akin to post-war Berlin’s. We can cross our fingers and hope this all works out as planned. But since this deal involves the county commissioners, it may be wiser to close our eyes and just hand over our wallets. —Lisa Rab



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