UPDATE: Sources say Vantage Hospitality has pending contract to buy Wyndham, adjacent 10 acres


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9:50 P.M. UPDATE:

Two sources familiar with a pending contract to sell the Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk hotel and  10.38 acres that surround it said Wednesday the prospective buyer is Vantage Hospitality Group Inc., based in Coral Springs.

The sources declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the deal.

Vantage Hospitality Group PR manager Al Cohen said in an email Wednesday night the company could "neither confirm nor deny that Vantage or any of its affiliated entities is involved.”

Created in 1999, Vantage Hospitality is a privately held company that says it is among the world’s top 10 franchises based on the more than 1,200 properties.

Its legacy brands include Americas Best Value Inn and the Lexington by Vantage collection of inns, hotels and suites that offer three- and four-star hotel owners the option to customize their property and amenities based on market niches.

Vantage Hospitality has been positioning itself for growth.

In August, it hired a new group vice president, Mark Williams, to lead the company’s midscale and upscale brands, which include Lexington Inns, Lexington Hotels, Lexington Legacy, Jameson Inns & Suites, and 3 Palms Hotels & Resorts. He is based at Vantage’s global headquarters in Coral Springs.

Williams did not return an email or phone call.

  EARLIER STORY: The Wyndham Jacksonville Riverwalk and another 10.38 acres around it on the Southbank riverfront are under contract to a buyer, owners’ representatives confirmed Tuesday. The representatives would not disclose the buyer or its plans. The hotel and surrounding property are separately owned. The Wyndham property sale could be completed by March. “New capital and new investment will be coming with this transaction, which is going to very good for the hotel in the community,” said Richard Lillis, executive vice president of Colliers International in Miami and a hotel specialist. “I think the community is going to be thrilled,” he said. Lillis represents the owner of the 322-room riverfront hotel at 1515 Prudential Drive. Property records show the hotel was built in 1981 on about 6 acres. It began as a Sheraton and also has operated as a Radisson. A Colliers International marketing brochure says the property could be rebranded as another chain. Lillis said the property has been a distressed property for years and is bank-owned. “That’s not a good situation,” he said. It was under contract last year, but the deal did not close. The hotel is owned by GECMC 2007-C1 Prudential Drive LLC, in care of LNR Partners LLC. It took title to the property in 2012. LNR Property LLC provides CMBS –– commercial mortgage-backed securities –– and commercial real estate debt investing and special servicing of real estate-related assets and securities. Marketing materials show there has been interest from Wyndham, Hilton and Holiday Inn on rebranding. Colliers International executives represent the two separate owners. Lillis said the hotel deal “is in the preliminary due diligence phase where the buyer of the hotel and the seller have agreed to contract terms and have entered into a formal agreement.” If the deal closes this time, Lillis advised hotel users, such as groups that meet there, to proceed as “business as usual.” Lillis said the hotel was once the premier property in the city and continues to host guests, banquets, weddings and meetings. It offers 35,000 square feet of convention and exhibit space. “I think the hotel has done a very good job in tough circumstances in maintaining business and in maintaining its position in the community,” he said. He could not comment on the contract price. The Wyndham property’s 2015 market value is almost $7.1 million, Duval County property records show. Records show the hotel was sold in March 2012 at a foreclosure auction for $100 to its lender, Miami Beach-based LNR Partners LLC, after a circuit judge ruled the owner, Riverwalk Hotels LLC, was in default on $34.1 million in mortgage principal, interest and fees. Riverwalk Hotels purchased the property in February 2001 for $21.05 million, according to property records. Bob Selton, CEO and principal with Colliers International in Northeast Florida, represents the owner of 10.38 acres around the hotel. He confirmed Tuesday the prospective hotel buyer also has a contract on the surrounding property. That property is zoned with approvals for 1,200 residential units, 190,000 square feet of retail development, a 200-room hotel and a 300-slip marina, according to the Colliers marketing information. The property includes 1,350 linear feet of frontage along the St. Johns River and is marketed for “great mixed use development, in the middle of high growth area.” Its boundaries include the Chart House restaurant, the small shops along the river, the former Crawdaddy’s space, the parking lot and a corner at Riverplace Boulevard and Prudential Drive. The total 16-acre hotel and surrounding land is next to the Duval County School Board property, which is adjacent to the almost 29-acre “Healthy Town” project planned by Jacksonville developers Peter Rummell and Mike Balanky. The 10-acre property carries a sales price of $14.9 million, marketing materials show. [email protected] @MathisKb (904) 356-2466