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Hotel Lawyers -- featured subjects and articles
Meet the Money® 2014

ADA defense and compliance

EB-5 financing

Workouts, bankruptcies & receiverships

Hotel Management Agreements

Hotel Franchise & License Agreements

Hotel industry trends

This is Jim Butler, author of www.HotelLawBlog.com and hotel lawyer. Please contact me at Jim Butler at jbutler@jmbm.com or 310.201.3526.

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Most of the people we talk to in the hotel industry believe that consolidations, such as the recent Marriott-Starwood and Accor-Fairmont mergers, will have a big effect on their own hotel investments and other stakeholders in the hotel industry.

JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® would like to know what you think about these events. Please click on the link below to tell us how these mergers will impact your business with this 6-question survey that should take you less than 3 minutes to complete.

Click here to take our survey.

We will share the survey results (on an anonymous and aggregated basis only) with everyone who completes the survey. The results should be interesting . . .

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PREVAILING WAGE LAW is California’s “other” minimum wage. It requires workers to be paid union wages on publicly funded construction projects. But in recent years, the law in California has EXPANDED well beyond its initial purpose.  It has become a tool for workers to demand union wages on virtually any construction project in California. These claims can increase the cost of a major construction project by millions of dollars—and can be brought years after construction is complete.

$8 million Prevailing Wage verdict in 2011
for work on the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel
by
Jon Welner, Hotel Lawyer

Rent credit from Port District triggered prevailing wage; $8 Million in back wages paid by Hensel Phelps Construction Company

In California Prevailing Wage Law, “public funds” come in many forms. In the case of the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel, the Hotel learned the hard way that a “rent credit” can transform a $350 million, privately funded project into a “public work.”

In 2005 the Hotel signed a ground lease with the Port of San Diego. The lease required the construction of a hotel and convention center by the end of 2008. Rent would be a minimum of $2.25 million per year during construction and $4.5 million per year thereafter. To help support the project, the Port agreed to a “rent credit” of up to $46.5 million during the first eleven years of the lease.

Does a rent credit = the payment of public funds?

Hilton San DiegoThe Hotel claimed that project was privately funded and not a “public work.” It argued that the rent credit was not the “payment…of public funds” because the overall lease—including the credit—was at fair market value (FMV).

The unions disagreed. They argued that a “rent credit” falls squarely within the statutory definition of “public funds,” which includes “rents…that are paid, reduced, charged at less than fair market value, waived, or forgiven” by the government. CONTINUE READING →

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21 September 2016

Have you noticed the explosion of new brands from hotel companies over the past few years? At JMBM, we do a lot of work with branding through license agreements, management agreements and other arrangements. So we asked my partner Bob Braun to give us some insights on what this is all about and what significance it has.

Here are Bob’s thoughts, along with some practical advice on what owners and developers should do in this situation.

Hotels – Brand Expansion or Brand Explosion?
by
Bob Braun, Hotel Lawyer

Consumer oriented companies commonly use “brand extension” to launch a new product by using an existing brand name on a new or related product, often in a different category. These companies use brand extension to leverage their existing customer base and brand loyalty to increase profits with a new product offering. CONTINUE READING →

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07 September 2016

Asians love the U.S. as a place to live, buy homes, invest, go to school, and run their businesses. Over the past five years, we have seen an unprecedented increase in foreign investment in the US — particularly as a new flood of Chinese investors joins the tide of Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and other Asian investors.

My partner Scott Harshman counsels foreign investor clients from all over the world. He tells them that it is urgent to get an early grip on potential U.S. tax consequences and structures when first contemplating their investment in the U.S. The key is doing the analysis BEFORE making the investment. The earlier, the better. Otherwise, the unfortunate foreign investor may become ensnarled in a messy tangle of tax and regulatory issues never imagined.

Here is what Scott says . . .


Tax Alert for foreign investors looking at U.S. investments

By Scott Harshman, Partner JMBM

Pre-immigration and Non-U.S. Resident Planning

It does not matter whether foreign individuals are investing in U.S. property and hoping to become residents in the U.S., or are planning to invest in U.S property without U.S. residence: the investment is particularly complex for these individuals.

The definition of “U.S. property” for international tax purposes is a term of art, and the details are complex.  That is why – to avoid potential problems and minimize U.S. tax exposure – planning for the ownership of U.S. property should be done before the investment is made.

If this planning is well thought-out and structured properly, the foreign individual – and the business entities owned by such individual – can avoid many pitfalls associated with the U.S. tax and legal systems. CONTINUE READING →

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30 August 2016

We were greatly saddened to learn that on August 23, 2016, Tom Callahan of PKF and CBRE succumbed in his battle with cancer.

Tom was great friend and a giant in the hotel industry. Our friend and colleague, Jack Westergom, founder and CEO of Manhattan Hospitality Advisors summed things up pretty well in an email that said:

Tom was one of the most capable, knowledgeable, decent, honest, nice guys in our business. He was the poster boy for demonstrating that you could be highly effective and a good person at the same time. Tom enriched everyone’s life that he touched and left them feeling good about having gotten to know him. His great spirit will live on.

A memorial service has been scheduled for Saturday, September 17 at 10:00 AM at St. Hilary Catholic Church located at 761 Hilary Drive in Tiburon, California. A reception will follow in the Parish Hall from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM.

Below is the notice released today by Tom’s colleagues at CBRE. CONTINUE READING →

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16 August 2016

Is there a serious risk that EB-5 will expire September 30, 2016?

Anything is possible when Congress is in session, but none of the experts we talk to believe that the EB-5 program will be allowed to lapse.

As discussed below, certain key provisions of the EB-5 program dealing with regional centers will “sunset” or expire on September 30, 2016. And, as part of the effort to extend the regional center program or make it permanent, there are some proposals to modify potentially significant aspects of the EB-5 program.

No one should be complacent about Congressional “renewal”, but the industry fully expects the EB-5 program will be reauthorized on terms that maintain the viability of program. Some proposals are more or less attractive to certain affected parties, but we expect the final resolution to be satisfactory.

With Congress likely to act soon, should any developers start EB-5 financing now? YES!

Amidst the uncertainty of when and how the EB-5 renewal legislation will be finally resolved, some developers have decided to do nothing with the EB-5 financing opportunity until all the dust settles. Such timing is not certain.

Developers who want to take advantage of EB-5 funding should get started now

Many hope that Congress will act before September 30, 2016. Others think that with election-year turmoil, as it did last year in the budget stalemate, Congress may “kick the can down the road” with one or more interim extensions of the EB-5 program.

We believe the “wait and see” approach is a mistake for many developers — particularly those who are ready to start construction now. Here is why: CONTINUE READING →

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Tye Turman, Senior VP of Lodging Development at Marriott, speaks with David Sudeck, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® at JMBM’s 2016 Meet the Money® – the national hotel finance and investment conference. They discuss what’s in Marriott’s pipeline, PIPs, adaptive reuse, and Marriott’s brands, including Moxy and AC.

A transcript follows the video. See other videos in this series on the Jeffer Mangels YouTube channel.

David Sudeck: I’m at the 26th annual Meet the Money® Conference. I’m here with Tye Turman, Senior VP at Marriott, and I wanted to talk to you about your experience here at the conference so far. First of all, I wanted to see if you’ve ever attended before.

Tye Turman: Actually, this is my first time, David. I’ve really been looking forward to this, I’ve heard about Meet the Money® for many years. I’ve always had schedule conflicts and unfortunately couldn’t make it, so it’s a real honor to be here.

David Sudeck: We love the fact that it’s a small, intimate conference; we hope you are able to get some real activity from the conference, make some good connections. So, wanted to talk about 2016, where you think we are in the cycle. Obviously, Marriott has been in the news in a very big way and I’m sure a lot of what’s in the press you can’t speak to at all, so I’ll avoid those questions. But in terms of the market cycle, what sort of initiatives are you undertaking in 2016 versus 2015, and where do you think we are in the market cycle? CONTINUE READING →

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Alice Gao, Senior VP of ICBC USA, speaks with Bob Braun, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® at JMBM’s 2016 Meet the Money® – the national hotel finance and investment conference. Alice explains the structure of ICBC USA, discusses interest rates, and Chinese immigrant investment in U.S. gateway cities.

A transcript follows the video. See other videos in this series on the Jeffer Mangels YouTube channel.

Bob Braun: I’m here with Alice Gao, who’s a Senior Vice President of ICBC USA. Alice, thank you very much for coming and spending a little time with us today.

Alice Gao: Thank you very much.

Bob Braun: Alice, I’d like to ask a few questions which I think you’re very suited to in your position with ICBC. One question I’d like to ask is, what kind of projects are the bank most interested in lending to these days? Are there things that attract you more than others, or are more interested in than others these days?

Alice Gao: Well, let me just start with a brief introduction of our bank. I’m very excited that as of December 2015, the bank continues to be ranked as the number one largest bank in the world by total assets of $3.6 trillion, and also as number one on tier one capital, about $215 billion. We are also ranked number one by net profit of $44 million. So, with that, in the U.S., we have four financial institutions. So, the four together provide a full array of products and services. The first financial institution is ICBC Financial Services: it’s a broker dealer of security services. And we also have ICBC Standard Bank, which is a financial market and commodity bank based in New York. We also have ICBC New York Branch, which is a wholesale bank of ICBC Group. And lastly we have ICBC USA, a Federal Charter full licensed bank, FDIC insured.

So, ICBC USA has thirteen branches and one service center. We have three branches in New York, ten branches in California, one service center in Seattle. Together with these four financial institutions, physical locations and e-banking platform, we offer not only traditional deposits and loan services, we also offer a variety of products such as cash management, trade finance, treasury and also foreign exchange. Our strongest point to distinguish us from others is we do offer variety of services of onshore and offshore renminbi products.

Bob Braun: So most of the lending that you would do on hotels is through ICBC?

Alice Gao: Most of the lending for hotels is through ICBC New York Branch and ICBC USA.

Bob Braun: And in terms of the type of lending you’re doing, does ICBC have any current priorities or any current trends that it sees? CONTINUE READING →

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Alan Reay, President of Atlas Hospitality Group, speaks with Robert Braun, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® at JMBM’s 2016 Meet the Money® – the national hotel finance and investment conference. They discuss the California hotel market including sales and purchases, pricing, RevPAR, financing, and the impact of the Marriott/Starwood merger and Airbnb.

A transcript follows the video. See other videos in this series on the Jeffer Mangels YouTube channel.

Bob Braun: I’m with Alan Reay of Atlas Hospitality. He’s the foremost hotel broker in California, I’d say. At least that’s what I tell my clients, and I’ve always been proved right. Alan, thanks very much for coming and talking to us today. I think you have your pulse on the market, certainly here in California, more than possibly anyone else. What do you see in the hotel market today? What kind of trends do you see?

Alan Reay: During the first quarter we’ve definitely seen a big drop off in sales in California. In the U.S., down 52%; in California, down 35%; that really has nothing to do with the economic fundamentals, because RevPARs are still increasing, profits are up and a lot of the numbers are positive throughout California. It has been a fundamental shift from a buyer’s sentiment in terms of how they’re looking at deals and how they’re pricing them. We had a lot of turmoil in the public markets, as you know, in the first few months of 2016, and a lot of REITs have pulled out of the market, and a lot of lenders have pulled out of the market. So that’s created a disconnect between what buyers and sellers expectations are on pricing, which in turn has created a big drop in hotel sales volume.

Bob Braun: Now do you think this creates an opportunity for people? Or is the lack of lending and the lack of interest something that’s just going to continue through the rest of the year? CONTINUE READING →

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Tom Corcoran, Chairman of the Board of FelCor Lodging Trust, speaks with David Sudeck, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® at JMBM’s 2016 Meet the Money® – the national hotel finance and investment conference. They discuss “rational debt,” redevelopment opportunities, and the evolution of FelCor.

A transcript follows the video. See other videos in this series on the Jeffer Mangels YouTube channel.

David Sudeck: I’m David Sudeck, I’m at the 26th annual Meet the Money® conference with Tom Corcoran, the founder of FelCor Lodging Trust. Thank you for joining us. You just got off your panel and you did a great job, so thank you for that. I wanted to hear about in this uncertain time, 2016, where you see us in the market at this point and how it may differ from 2015.

Tom Corcoran: Actually, I think it’s going to be a lot like ’15. I think ’16 and ’15 are going to be very similar. I think we’re going to continue to have positive RevPAR above the GDP and so I think it makes a lot of sense to me that the industry remains very strong; robust. There’s some clouds out there, people are trying to say there’s a storm coming, and I just don’t happen to believe there is. I think those clouds are artificially made up and aren’t really in the real world.

David Sudeck: My experience is some of our lender clients are pulling back in terms of the provisions, particularly of construction lending.

Tom Corcoran: Yeah, I think that’s probably good, I’m okay with that. When people go through getting nervous before things really are bad, it has the net effect of acting as a governor – which is why I call it a governor – because it kind of stops irrational lending. Most people believe supply is the worst enemy of the hotel industry and I would argue that it’s debt that creates the supply. The source, historically, of all the downturns has been where people have borrowed too much money – even in some of the worst cycles we’ve gone through – people had non-recourse, 100% financing. Then people can build hotels that make no rational, economic sense at all.

David Sudeck: So where do you see opportunities in this market given the lack of liquidity? I think that the number of hotel developers is going to shrink, supply will pull back to some extent. Do you see any specific opportunities in this marketplace? CONTINUE READING →