A derelict downtown Toledo building that was once a popular chain hotel has been purchased by an unknown buyer for just a fraction of the cost the former owner paid six years ago.
The former Hotel Seagate, at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Summit Street, was purchased for $600,000 on Nov. 13 - well below the listed $4.6 million 2006 purchase price at a sheriff's sale by the mortgage holder. The new owner is unknown. Lucas County records list Louisville Title Agency For NW Ohio Inc., as the the trustee for the secret owners.
Louisville Title Agency President Jim Lindsay did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Toledo Deputy Mayor Paul Syring, the top economic development official for Mayor Mike Bell, said he knew nothing of the sale.
"I take it as a good sign," Mr. Syring said. "When any empty building changes hands, it usually means something will be done with it."
The mayor also said he did not know the identity of the owner but was encouraged by the sale.
Mayor Bell said the property was marketed by himself and others to Chinese investors during his trips to China since taking office. Mayor Bell just returned from China last week after his fourth trip there as mayor.
The 19-story hotel, which sustained burst water pipes and other problems in the winter of 2008, closed in early 2009 after being cited for violations of the Toledo fire code. A sign was posted on the building soon after it closed saying it was "closed for repairs" and employees answering the phone in April of that year were unable to say when the 262-room property would reopen. It never did.
When it opened in 1970, it was the Holiday Inn, and later became the Riverview Inn, Toledo Tower, Best Western, Hawthorn Hotel & Suites, and Ramada Inn & Suites.
Mr. Syring noted that other key Toledo properties, such as the Marina District, the Docks restaurant complex, and the Park Inn Hotel, have been purchased recently by Chinese investors with Louisville Title as the trustee.
Toledo Councilman Rob Ludeman, a Realtor, said the $600,000 purchase price is not surprising.
"The market has been going down for the last five years and without any cash flow involved, that further reduces the value of the property," Mr. Ludeman said, "I don't know who bought it. I would want to find out. At that price, it would give the new owner a great opportunity to renovate it and reopen it as a hotel again."
Mr. Ludeman said Louisville Title would have a fiduciary obligation not to disclose the owner.
The nearby Park Inn Hotel, which has 400-rooms and stands 14-stories, sold in September, 2011 for $3 million - a fraction of its original $42 million cost. The hotel was sold by 101 N Summit Street Holdings LLC, a holding company for the hotel's previous owners, which included the Ohio Carpenters Pension Fund.
Lucas County real estate records don't state the name of the new owner of the hotel, which was placed in a trust under Louisville Title Agency for Northwest Ohio Inc. However, a manager at the hotel identified the name of the company as 5 Lakes Global.
5 Lakes Global Group Ltd. is a consulting group headed by Simon Guo, a Chinese translator and deal broker who has repeatedly brought Chinese investors to the region. Mr. Guo was among the team who introduced Mayor Bell to investors from China who ultimately purchased land at the Marina District and the Docks restaurant complex in East Toledo.
Mr. Lindsey has also accompanied Mr. Bell and others to China several times, including on the most recent trip seeking investors earlier this month.
Contact Ignazio Messina at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6171.