News Column

Southern Bank sues Norfolk, Portsmouth hotel owners

June 10, 2014

By Tim McGlone, The Virginian-Pilot

June 10--NORFOLK -- Southern Bank has filed lawsuits against the owners of two local hotels -- the Tazewell on Granby Street and the Governor Dinwiddie in Portsmouth -- seeking to recover millions in bad loans.

This is the second round of lawsuits by Southern in recent weeks targeting hotels delinquent on their loan payments. The bank last month sued three hotel owners seeking repayment of $9.5 million in defaulted loans.

Southern has been trying to clear up bad loans originated by Bank of the Commonwealth, which failed in 2011. Southern has been aggressively pursuing loan guarantors, either through lawsuits or foreclosures, after buying Bank of the Commonwealth's assets.

The bank last week also sued developer Robert "Bobby" Wright over defaulted loans for commercial space at 426 Granby St. and for the Oceana Crossing Shopping Center in Virginia Beach. The bank is seeking $5 million from Wright to cover the difference in the foreclosure auction sales of the properties.

The hotels named in the most recent suits all are owned by the Aniesh Corp., whose president is Rajesh "Raj" Randeria. He is not named personally in the suits, but other associates who guaranteed the loans are named.

Besides the Tazewell and the Governor Dinwiddie, the lawsuits also involve the Oxford Place Condominiums in the 300 block of High St. in Portsmouth and a property in Hampton, all of which fall under the Aniesh name. In all, $4.7 million is owed, according to the lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court.

Attorney Jeffrey Gray of Troutman Sanders, which represents Southern, said there is nothing unusual about the legal actions; Southern is simply pursuing its rights under the loan agreements.

"It's unfortunate. Hotels were pretty hot years ago and that market really got slammed," Gray said.

Southern Bank also recently filed lawsuits against the owners of three small hotels, including the Super 8 on London Boulevard in Portsmouth, for defaulting on a combined $9.5 million in loans. Randeria is also part owner of that Super 8.

Randeria has not responded to requests for interviews.

The hotels could end up on the auction block if a deal can't be reached between the owners and the bank.


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Source: Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)

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