CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The sale of defaulting hotels in Clarksburg and Elkins will continue, following an evidentiary hearing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia Tuesday.
“There is no ground that I can find to stop the bankruptcy sale because there is no factor of irreputable harm,” U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley ruled after over two hours of testimony.
Mountain West owes $17 million in outstanding debt for two hotels to the lender, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes to state and local government. The case, which was originally filed on May 20, diverted into U.S. bankruptcy court and has since been kicked out after Mountain West failed to meet deadlines for financial documentation.
William Abruzzino, developer and head of Mountain West Hospitality’s investment group, provided testimony via telephone to explain to the court what has progressed and what he has done to take care of the issue.
During the call, he said he expects to receive a letter of intent from Peachtree Hotel Group to become partners with Mountain West. Peachtree, he said, would be able to manage the property. The two entities have been meeting for roughly two months.
However, no sale agreement is in place as of yet.
“All I want to do is get enough money to pay it off,” he said. “I want to make sure that we pay back the creditors that we owe money to.”
Keeley said that the defendant has not satisfied his burden.
“When the defendant was running the property no one was getting paid,” she said. “The electric was threatening to be shut off.”
Mountain West’s attorney said a 2012 appraisal of the Clarksburg property valued it at $21.5 million. The Elkins property was valued at the same time for $8.7 million. But an expert witness who appraised the value of the properties said it is her opinion, as of July 7, 2017, the Clarksburg property is worth $6.4 million. Additionally, she said the Elkins property is worth $5.9 million, together totaling $13.3 million — significantly less than the $17 million of debt owed for the two properties.
That witness credits that to a great deal of changes in the market including a significant increase in hotels in the Clarksburg/Bridgeport area and a diminished demand due to the decline of the oil and gas industry.
She furthermore predicted the worth of the property to decrease by 28 percent once it drops the Hilton name. The Elkins property, she said, would similarly drop by about 32 percent.
Sale of the Hampton Inn in Elkins is set for noon Thursday, followed by the Hilton Garden Inn in Clarksburg at 3:30 p.m.