Brandee Diggs and Oxley Holdings had had their eyes on the vacant hotel on U.S. Route 50 west near the Golden Corral Restaurant, since 2010. Like other interested parties, they were unable to get a deal done for the hotel before it went to auction. Unlike other interested parties, they were able to survive the climbing bidding process and purchase the hotel at auction for $2,050,000 Thursday.
The property is part of Dick Beavers' holdings. In 2008, he began building the still-vacant 65-room Country Inn & Suites hotel that sits just north of 1st Mariner Bank.
The auction, held under the property's valet portico, drew more people than expected there were nearly 50 in attendance and about a dozen bidders but early on all but two dropped from contention.
Tranzon Fox auctioneer Suzy Stegmaier started the bidding at $3 million but had to work her way down to $1 million before she was able to get any takers. Over the course of fewer than five minutes, the price hovered around $1.5 million and didn't appear as if it were going to increase much more. The trustees called a timeout to confer with the debtors and other stakeholders. Stegmaier said they wanted to make sure the price was sufficient to continue the proceedings. She said it was very unlikely the auction would be called off, and within another five minutes, the trustees returned and restarted the bidding.
Eventually, the price reached the $2 million mark and Stegmaier, who had been increasing the bid floor in $100,000 increments, reduced the bump to $50,000.
"We had a number in mind," Diggs said later. "I had my cap, and if I had hit it, I would have made a phone call (to see about extending it)."
He described he and his partners as highly motivated to complete the purchase.
It didn't come to that, as the people against whom he was bidding abandoned the process at $2 million and Diggs picked it up for $50,000 more.
"Now I can breathe," he said to his companions as his was the final
During the building inspection before the auction, someone found a dollar bill on the property, Jeff Stein of Tranzon Fox told Diggs as he approached the bid table. He handed it over, making the new owner $1 richer before the building was closed on.
The courts still have to approve the sale, which may take as long as 60 days but is expected to be completed much more quickly. After that, Diggs and his partners will get to work completing the restoration and finding a flag for the hotel.
Representatives of both Comfort Inns and Wyndam Hotels stopped by to Congratulate Diggs on his purchase. The hotel was planned as a Country Inn and Suites, but the brand wasn't part of the sale, freeing Oxley Holdings to choose the flag it prefers.
The hotel includes an indoor pool and 22 suites. It is nearly completed, which was one of the reasons it attracted so much attention. Diggs worked in the hotel business for years, and as soon as the building went up for sale, he started to put together a plan to purchase it.
"This presented the opportunity to get back into the hospitality business but at a level I've never been too before," he said.