Wyndham under new ownership

Changes hands after foreclosure

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRUCE RUSHTON
Photo by Bruce Rushton
The downtown Wyndham Centre hotel has changed hands.

Crescent Hotels and Resorts, which had been managing the property that went through foreclosure last year, no longer has the hotel in its portfolio, according to a woman at Crescent headquarters in Virginia. The liquor license was transferred on Wednesday from Crescent to Tower Capital Group, said Todd Oliver, city liquor inspector.

Tower Capital Group is managed by Al Rajabi of San Antonio, Texas, according to records at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office. Rajabi also owns the Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa in Hot Springs, Arkansas, where a woman in the business office confirmed the Wyndham acquisition and said that she would leave a message for Rajabi.

Ward 5 Ald. Andrew Proctor said he met with Rajabi this week. “I’m excited that there is a new owner to revitalize and renovate the hotel and to continue to make it an asset for downtown Springfield,” Proctor said.

The purchase price isn’t clear. The Adams Street hotel, one of the largest in the city, has a fair market value of $10.9 million, according to Sangamon County property records. The previous lender acquired the hotel last fall after foreclosure.

In Arkansas, the city of Hot Springs, citing code violations and safety concerns, threatened to close the historic Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa shortly after Rajabi bought it in 2017 for 25 percent below its market value, according to media reports. The city shut down 47 rooms, Arkansas media reported, but they were reopened within 24 hours after passing a safety inspection and renovations began at the hotel considered one of the state’s most iconic, with past guests including Al Capone, Babe Ruth, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

In a March column, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette senior editor Rex Nelson reported that the Arlington was thriving and that he’d never seen the lobby more crowded than on a Friday night when he visited Hot Springs to watch a high school basketball tournament. A year ago, Rajabi sold a Sheraton in Little Rock for $10.4 million after owning it for four years. He had purchased the property in a foreclosure sale for $5 million, the Democrat-Gazette reported, then invested $8 million in renovations.

“Rajabi is what’s known in the hotel business as a flipper, someone who buys distressed properties, updates them and then sells them for a profit,” Nelson wrote in a 2018 column.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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