News Column

Bank seeks $8M from corporate owner of Norfolk Plaza

June 19, 2014

By Tim McGlone, The Virginian-Pilot



June 20--NORFOLK -- The Norfolk Plaza, the city's fourth-largest hotel, has become the latest target by Southern Bank to recover millions of dollars in past-due loans.

Southern is seeking $8 million from the Plaza's corporate owner, Laxmi Hotel LLC, for principal and interest. Laxmi defaulted on the loan in December 2012, according to the lawsuit.

The Plaza, a Norfolk icon once called the Golden Triangle, is one of the hotels and apartment buildings under the corporate name Aniesh, owned by Rajesh "Raj" Randeria.

Randeria recently received a $12.6 million bridge loan to keep his hotel empire afloat.

Under an agreement with Southern, the bank accepted about half of the $26 million it was owed for all the loans involving Aniesh's properties, according to public records.

Randeria was released from his bank obligations, but Southern is suing other partners and LLCs affiliated with those properties. The bank is seeking a total of about $17.5 million. It is suing Randeria for what is owed on a Super 8 in Portsmouth that is outside the Aniesh Corp.

Aniesh's other properties are the Tazewell Hotel on Granby Street, the Governor Dinwiddie and the Oxford Place Condominium apartments, both in downtown Portsmouth, and the Kings Way Apartments in Hampton.

A Los Angeles real estate investment firm, Thorofare Capital, loaned Randeria and Aniesh's subsidiaries $12.6 million in November. Thorofare describes itself as an alternative investment firm that provides bridge loans for no more than a three-year period.

Lawyers involved in the transaction wouldn't comment, and Randeria has not responded to phone and email interview requests. Thorofare also did not answer questions by email.

The original $26 million loans for the hotels and apartment buildings were granted by the defunct Bank of the Commonwealth, which was taken over by Southern when Bank of the Commonwealth failed in 2011. Southern has been consistently suing to recoup bad loans it inherited and that it could not recover through the foreclosure process.

The Plaza, currently assessed at $7.3 million, opened in 1961 as the Golden Triangle Motor Hotel, a five-star hotel where Hollywood stars once stayed. The tall, triangle-shaped hotel is across from Scope.

Though recently renovated, it has struggled since the recession and lost its last corporate affiliation -- Crowne Plaza -- a few years ago.

But Thorofare said in a news release when it supplied its financing that the hotel is helped by a five-year Navy contract for 100 rooms.

Tim McGlone, 757-446-2343, tim.mcglone@pilotonline.com

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(c)2014 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

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Source: Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)


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