Lender acquires Marriott at sheriff’s sale

The lender that seized the Baton Rouge Marriott in July acquired the property at a foreclosure sale Wednesday, with plans to market the high-rise hotel to potential buyers.

CCMS 2005-CD 1 Lodging, a pool of commercial mortgage loans, acquired the 300-room hotel at 5500 Hilton Ave. for court costs, which come to a little more than $2,200.

“There was no excitement at all,” said Brett Furr, the Baton Rouge lawyer who represented the lender.

According to the seizure and sale order, Columbia Properties Baton Rouge Ltd. owed $32.8 million as of May 1 on a $36.5 million promissory note signed in 2005. The interest and other fees owed to CCMS brought the total debt to close to $39.0 million.

Columbia Properties bought the hotel in late 2000 from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. for $20.6 million.

Furr said the seizure and sale was “a friendly deal.”

“Columbia is ready to move on to other things,” he said.

There is a lot of interest in the hotel, which is just off Interstate 10 near College Drive and Corporate Boulevard.

The property has been in business since 1976, first as a Hilton. The hotel switched flags in 2000, becoming a Marriott after Columbia bought the property.

“There are a half-dozen prospective buyers,” Furr said. “The property has value as an operating hotel.”

Once the lenders comply with regulators and get the Marriott stabilized, the plan is to start marketing the property, Furr said. Several crucial factors, such as a plan to honor hotel reservations and keep paying employees, already have been reached.

“This should be seamless to everybody,” he said.

Any potential buyer would have to be someone who would be approved as a Marriott operator, Furr said. This, along with the size of the transaction and the dollar values involved, kind of complicate the situation, he said.