ORLANDO, Fla. - The big red "M" on Orlando’s Downtown Marriott hotel is a familiar sight to anyone driving through the city on Interstate 4. The hotel's days may be numbered though, as creditors have filed a "complaint for foreclosure" in state court.
The hotel is an easy walk to downtown's major attractions, and it's in Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill's district.
"It's another casualty, I believe, of this global pandemic," she said.
The hotel is a franchise, not directly owned by Marriott. The creditors say the owners missed their loan payment last March, and are now demanding they pay back the full principal balance, plus fees – nearly $39 million.
"They're probably going to wait for the bank to maybe file a lawsuit against them, so they're probably not making payments until they get everything settled with PPP, is my guess. And they'll probably figure a way of getting current," said Terrence Hart, a commercial real estate expert with Franklin Street Real Estate, "that's what's most likely going to happen."
Real estate attorney Jason Rosenthal said the owners may try filing for Chapter 11 protection.
"They would operate in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy just as if they were not in bankruptcy. The guests wouldn't know any difference."
Commissioner Hill said the Downtown Marriott had played an important role in her district, offering internships to young people in nearby Pine Hills interested in the hospitality business.
"They have also opened their event spaces at a discount rate for those that can't afford to many of the event spaces down in the International Drive corridor," she said.
Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said it had been a tough time for the area's hotels, like the Marriott.
"COVID has had such an impact on the tourism economy, and that really shows up in the amount of tourist development taxes that we collect," he said.
In January, the county collected just $7.6 million. This is compared to last January when they took in nearly $25.7 million. Diamond says thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, brighter days could be ahead.
"They're feeling more comfortable about traveling in light of COVID, and I think that's going to get better and better as time goes on," he said.
We reached out to the parties involved in the lawsuit. Neither the hotel's owners nor a lawyer for the lenders would officially talk about the ongoing litigation.
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