By Michelle Mitchell
The Republic | azcentral.com
Chandler?s Crowne Plaza San Marcos Golf Resort has a new owner and soon will have a new look.
Interwest Capital, which purchased the historical property on Jan.28, plans a top-to-bottom renovation, including revamping guest rooms and meeting spaces and improving the golf course and grounds, said Karl Coleman, president of Interwest Capital.
?Our goal is to have that finished this year so we can celebrate the centennial of the hotel,? Coleman said.
The remodeling will not detract from the historic designation of the hotel, he said.
?You don?t want to try to make it something that it?s not,? Coleman said.
The hotel, which will remain a Crowne Plaza, will not close during renovation and all existing reservations will be honored, said Ashleigh Mason, director of development with GF Management.
An affiliate of GF Management, Craz Associates LLC, is managing the resort.
There will be no layoffs and the hotel is hiring at least seven positions, said Dina Lomango, regional vice president of sales and marketing at GF Management.
Bob Van Bergen, who served as general manager on an interim basis, was replaced by Jeff Hammermeister after the sale.
The San Marcos, which opened in 1913, has 250 rooms and 35,000 square feet of meeting space.? President Herbert Hoover, dancer-actor Fred Astaire and other celebrities have stayed there.
?There?s a lot of sentiment around this hotel,? said Teri Killgore, Chandler’s downtown redevelopment manager. ?You talk to folks whose families have been here awhile, everybody?s had a wedding or a prom or a special, meaningful event there.
?Getting that out of limbo is huge.?
The future of the hotel, at Arizona Avenue and Chandler Boulevard, has been uncertain since October 2010, when it was taken over by a court-appointed receiver when San Marcos Capital Partners defaulted on a $23.9 million loan. San Marcos Capital filed for bankruptcy in March 2011.
This $11 million sale to Interwest Capital is about 67 percent of what Guaranty Bank and Trust Company paid in November 2011 to foreclose the property in a trustee sale.
The Interwest deal comes more than two years after the resort was taken over by the receiver, although those connected to the property had said publicly that interested buyers were moving forward on the property.
?We went through numerous rounds where we thought that it was going to close up until the day that it didn?t,? Killgore said.
Most recently, Kansas? Ottawa University reportedly was interested in purchasing the property for a residential campus, although the hotel management company in January said the property would remain a hotel.
?We were happy to have Ottawa, but we?re obviously excited to have it be a hotel,? Killgore said.
Now that brides or executives considering the hotel for events or meetings do not have to worry about its future, hopefully bookings will improve, Killgore said.
Chandler receives tax revenue from hotels, which represents about 1percent of the city?s budgeted revenue for this fiscal year.
Interwest is not a newcomer to the area or to the San Marcos, Coleman said.
The company had a contract to purchase the debt on the property, but the bankruptcy filing ended that agreement, Coleman said.
?We think it has a ton of potential, just never quite had the ownership behind it,? Coleman said.
Because of its previous interest in the property, Interwest was connected to accusations made against former San Marcos co-owner and general manager Frank Heavlin.
Heavlin was accused by a law firm investigating him of pursuing a job with Interwest on company time while he still worked for San Marcos. Heavlin was fired in 2011 by the court-appointed receiver of San Marcos, Kirby Payne.
?At some point, he basically said, ?If you do end up owning the property, here?s my resume,?? Coleman said, adding that he has not communicated with Heavlin since he left San Marcos.
Heavlin, who could not be reached for comment, is not now involved with Interwest or San Marcos, Coleman said.