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New buyer to take over Ramada Plaza in downtown

The Ramada Plaza in downtown Macon has a new owner — but it’s not the same person who captured the bid at the auction held there Tuesday.

Dr. Gunwant Dhaliwal, of New Port Richey, Fla., has bought the 16-floor hotel at 108 First St. for $1.9 million, he said. The property will be owned under a corporation, GSD Hospitality Group LLC, which is co-owned by Dhaliwal and his wife, Dr. Tejinder Dhaliwal, he said.

Dhaliwal practices internal medicine and operates Gulf View Walk-In Clinics in New Port Richey and Spring Hill in Florida. His wife is an anesthesiologist at a local hospital.

“We are looking forward to making the hotel a success,” he said.

Shortly after the live auction, the $1.9 million winning bid by Koray Ergur, CEO of San Francisco-based The Ergur Group, hit a snag.

Renee Bumpus, general manager and director of sales and marketing of the hotel, said Wednesday there were “some difficulties” with Ergur.

The Telegraph reported Wednesday that Ergur’s company had bought two office buildings in Toledo, Ohio, two years ago that have been for sale for several months, according to The Toledo Blade newspaper. One building closed down after the power was shut off because of unpaid bills. Loan payments were not made on the other building, the newspaper reported.

Maryland-based National Commercial Auctioneers declined to comment about what went wrong with Ergur’s bid. An attempt to reach Ergur was unsuccessful.

The hotel was being sold at auction by the lender’s agent following a foreclosure.

Dhaliwal, 50, said Thursday he had the second highest bid at the live auction.

“I thought it was a done deal, so I left,” he said. “They (the auction company) called me back within a few minutes. I was driving out of town.”

Dhaliwal said he agreed to pay $1.9 million for the 298-room hotel and will be closing the deal within 30 days.

Dhaliwal said he will not be moving to Macon. He bought the hotel as an investment, he said. He owns other commercial property in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, but this is his first hotel purchase.

“I’m a person who buys commercial sites,” he said. “I consider myself just an investor. ... It’s a business opportunity. I am not going to be the one to run the place on a day-to-day basis.”

Dhaliwal said he would like to find someone “who wants to come on board” to help operate the business. Anyone interested may contact him by e-mail at dhaliwalg@yahoo.com, he said.

Dhaliwal would like to keep the current staff of about 40 employees unless they are bound by current management contracts.

“Subsequently I will hire local people” as occupancy at the hotel increases, he said.

For now, the Ramada name will remain the same, he said.

The 41-year-old property is in fairly good shape, he said, but “it definitely needs cosmetic changes. I think outside the building needs some changes to make it a little better.”

He said the lobby and some other public places need to be freshened up and cleaned.

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 since it was built. It has been the Crowne Plaza, Hilton, Macon Downtown Hotel and Radisson.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.

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