Macon’s Ramada Plaza faces second foreclosure in three years

lmorris@macon.comOctober 22, 2013 

Once again Macon’s downtown high-rise hotel is facing foreclosure.

Florida-based GSD Hospitality Group LLC bought the 16-story Ramada Plaza on First Street in March 2010 for $2 million at a foreclosure auction.

The hotel closed temporarily a couple of times in early 2011 because of problems with the boiler and aging pipes before it closed for good in February 2011. GSD Hospitality is owned by Gunwant Dhaliwal and his wife, Tejinder Dhaliwal, and both are doctors in New Port Richey, Fla.

In August 2011, Alabama-based Black Diamond Hotel Group LLC bought the hotel for $2.5 million from GSD Hospitality. According to the foreclosure legal notice, Tejinder Dhaliwal loaned Black Diamond $2.2 million toward the purchase.

She has begun foreclosure proceedings against Black Diamond.

The hotel is scheduled to be sold on the Bibb County Courthouse steps Nov. 5. It is unclear how much of the loan remains unpaid.

In addition, more than $13,200 is due for unpaid taxes on personal property such as furniture and equipment from 2011, according to the Bibb County Tax Assessor’s records online. GSD Hospitality is listed as owing the majority of this past due tax bill.

Also, records show real estate taxes of about $24,980 and personal property taxes of about $4,680 for 2013 are due by Nov. 15.

Efforts Tuesday to reach GSD Hospitality and Black Diamond were unsuccessful.

Canadian developer has option to buy hotel

It is unclear how the foreclosure could affect the possible sale of the hotel to Rupinder “Ruby” Sangha, owner of Canada-based Sangha Hospitality LLC.

Sangha has an option to buy the 297-room hotel for about $3 million, and plans call for turning the hotel into a Park Inn by Radisson, a Canada-based chain.

Several attempts Tuesday to reach Sangha’s attorney, Blake Lisenby, a partner with Sell & Melton in Macon, were unsuccessful.

The Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority agreed in May to help arrange financing for the acquisition and rehabilitation of the hotel through bonds up to $9 million.

In addition to the $3.1 million purchase price, Sangha planned to spend another $5.8 million on renovations, which would be covered by bond financing.

Sangha, a real estate developer in the Toronto area, had been working for more than a year to make a deal for the hotel property, Lisenby said last spring, “but financing has been impossible” in this economy.

The authority agreed to issue the bonds once they were sold by the Stern Agee brokerage firm. No tax money is involved in project.

“I have not heard anything in quite awhile from Mr. Sangha,” said David Lucas, senior vice president of public finance with Stern Agee, on Tuesday.

A few months ago Lucas met with Lisenby and Sangha’s accountant, he said, and “we had suggested (Sangha) talk to a hotel consultant that could help with a feasibility study. That’s the last meeting I attended.”

The consultants had started their work, but “nothing can be done on the bonds until they come up with a construction plan, costs and ... a feasibility study,” Lucas said.

The hotel has been successful in the past, but “the biggest problem is it’s too large,” he said. “There are too many rooms that have to stay full to pay the maintenance costs. ... But, it’s still doable. It’s still feasible. It’s just got to have the right manager in there.”

Linsenby said last spring that Sangha hoped to reopen the hotel by the end of 2013, but he agreed that was probably an ambitious goal.

The nearly 200,000-square-foot hotel was built in 1969 and sits on 2.2 acres. When it was named Ramada Plaza in November 2006, it was the fifth name for the hotel. Prior to becoming a Ramada Plaza, the hotel held the name Crowne Plaza for 10 years. Originally, it was a Hilton from 1970 until 1991, and it was the Macon Downtown Hotel until 1993. From 1993 until 1996, it was a Radisson.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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