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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.

Published on:

18 April 2022

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on EB-5 Financing.

Since the renewal of the EB-5 program this year, there has been a lot of talk about what this means for developers interested in taking on new projects. Our recent article in Westlaw Today sums up the latest information about the program. Part one is below; part two will be published next week.

This article was originally published on Westlaw Today on April 14, 2022.

 

What the 2022 Revitalization of EB-5 Financing Means
for Real Estate Developers and Other Entrepreneurs: Part 1

After being sidelined for the last few years by circumstances culminating with the pandemic and the lapse of the Regional Center Program in June of 2021, the EB-5 foreign investment program looks like it has returned as a viable option for developers seeking low-cost funding for new construction projects.

On March 15, President Biden signed the Omnibus Spending Bill, which included the “EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022,” sponsored by Senators Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). This bipartisan bill restores viability to EB-5 by reauthorizing the lapsed Regional Center Program, a component essential to the success of EB-5.

What is EB-5?

EB-5 refers to a program that is authorized by Section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. EB-5 is the fifth “Employment-Based” immigration program set forth in Section 203 and provides expedited visa processing for foreign investors making a minimum required investment in a project that directly creates at least 10 new jobs in the United States.

In short, it is both an immigration program for foreign investor immigrants, and a program that requires substantial capital investment in new business enterprises creating jobs in the United States.

The character of available financing and the projects most desirable for EB-5 investment are directly influenced by program requirements that must be met to qualify investors for a green card. For example, lower program investment minimums ($800,000 vs. $1,050,000) make projects more desirable in targeted areas of high unemployment and rural areas. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

31 March 2022
See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on EB-5 Financing, and here for C-PACE Financing.

The hotel development and financing world is buzzing with the news that the EB-5 program has been renewed, creating new opportunities for upcoming projects. My partner David Sudeck and I have written the short update below to help get you up to speed.

 

EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022
EB-5 is revitalized and renewed

by Jim Butler & David Sudeck

In case you haven’t heard, EB-5 is back! On March 15, President Biden signed the Omnibus Spending Bill, which included the “EB-5 Reform and Integrity Act of 2022,” sponsored by Senators Pat Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). This bipartisan bill restores viability to EB-5 by reauthorizing the lapsed Regional Center Program, a component essential to the success of EB-5.

What’s different about EB-5 this time around?

While the basics of the program remain the same–foreign investors provide a specified amount of capital to development projects that create American jobs, and are put on a fast track to green cards for themselves and their families–some aspects of the Regional Center Program have changed. The Regional Center Program, which was authorized until June 2021, allows investors to pool their resources to finance new projects and enterprises. Regional centers also have different requirements for the types of jobs created by a development project.

The new bill raises the minimum investment in qualified projects to $1,050,000, except in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs) where the investment minimum will be $800,000. TEAs are areas that the program prioritizes for job creation, usually rural or areas with high unemployment–where the investment minimum remains $800,000. The new minimum investment requirement will hold for the next five years, and then will be subject to reevaluation. The bill also puts a premium on investment in rural areas by expediting visa applications for investors involved in those projects; ten percent of EB-5 visas are set aside for these investors. Infrastructure projects are also subject to lower minimum investment requirements, but do not qualify for expedited visa processing. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

29 March 2022

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on ADA Compliance and Defense.

Many hotels have opted to include Electric Vehicle Charging Stations as an amenity for guests as the cars become more and more common. And while hotels may be very aware how the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to their property, are they considering the requirements for disabled guests at these charging stations?

My partner Martin Orlick, Chair of JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group, describes some of the issues that hotels and operators of electric vehicle charging stations should be aware of to maintain compliance with the ADA.

How Will ADA Guidelines Impact Public
Electric Vehicle Charging Stations?

by
Martin Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

You’re about to see a lot more Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS) on your daily drive. Within months of taking office, the Biden Administration announced an initiative to build half a million new charging stations across the country. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs act, which passed in November 2021, includes $7.5 billion towards this goal; the Administration’s signature domestic policy bill, the Build Back Better act, also includes funding to promote electric vehicles and expand the public charging network. California’s governor is promoting an ambitious plan of 500,000 electric vehicles on the state’s road in five years.

This is exciting news for the owners, operators and designers of EVCSs, and a welcome boost for a rapidly growing industry. What many companies are not considering, however, are the needs of the disabled drivers who will need to be able to access their electric vehicle charging stations.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

8 March 2022

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on Data Technology, Privacy & Security.

The rules around data privacy and cybersecurity are constantly evolving. In order to protect themselves from liability, hotel owners should pay attention to ongoing legal developments and learn more about their own data infrastructure.

Bob Braun, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Group, explains why hotels need to understand exactly what data they hold, where it is stored and who has access to it.

Facing the Knowledge Gap: Why Hotels Need “Visibility” to
Avoid Data Privacy Liability

by
Bob Braun, Hotel Lawyer

Addressing privacy compliance and cybersecurity is becoming more and more challenging for companies. At least 26 states are considering various kinds of data privacy laws. At the same time the rate, depth, and impact of ransomware, wiperware and data breaches has become more intense and more expensive, and there is no indication that the trend will end soon.  Hotel companies, as holders of significant amounts of personal information and highly dependent on computer networks for daily operations, are particularly at risk in this environment.

A hotel company that seeks to comply with privacy mandates, and to prepare for and defend against a data breach, requires knowledge – it requires visibility.

What does that mean? To achieve visibility, a hotel brand, manager or owner needs to increase its knowledge of key elements of its data infrastructure:

See Your Network

Most hotel executives, other than chief technology officers and chief financial officers, have little knowledge of their network. But understanding what data is stored on the network, how the various parts of the network interact, and who has access to the network (and what kind) is essential to evaluating risks, complying with privacy laws, and preparing and defending against attacks. This means not only knowing what is supposed to be on the network, but the “silent” nodes as well – things like unused servers and the devices that attach to the network, such as personal laptops, smart phones and tablets.  As hotels become increasingly automated – by relying on smartphones to substitute for keys and allowing touchless registration – being able to see the full scope of the network is challenging but essential. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

22 February 2022
See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.

If you are planning to make a large gift as part of your estate plan, you should consider taking advantage of the current tax exemption in effect until the end of 2025. After this time, the exemption will revert back to approximately one-half of its current value. This has potentially huge implications for hospitality executives and other high-net-worth individuals. Gordon Schaller, managing partner of JMBM’s Orange County office, explains below.

The Cost of Waiting to Make a Large Gift: Compounding Your Tax Savings

by Gordon Schaller

The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 doubled the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption, effective for gifts made from 2018 through the end of 2025. In 2026, the exemption will revert to the 2017 exemption, adjusted for inflation (approximately one-half of the 2025 exemption). There was great concern during the last part of 2020 and most of 2021 about the possible reduction of the lifetime gift and estate tax exemption prior to the scheduled reversion. However, Congress did not enact any change to the exemption, and it seems unlikely to do so for the foreseeable future. The current exemption is $12,060,000 per person, or $24,120,000 per married couple.

What should clients do now? For those who can afford to do so, they should utilize the exemption now. The cost of waiting, or the benefit of acting now, can be illustrated by the following table. The first example demonstrates the effect of a $12 million gift now, compounded at 6% over many years, compared to a $6 million gift when the exemption reverts in 2026, compounded over the remaining years. By 2050, the difference is $37 million in the first example. The second example shows an even greater disparity in outcomes ($57 million) when the assets gifted consist of an interest in a partnership, LLC, corporation or real estate that qualifies for valuation discounts for lack of control and lack of marketability. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

11 February 2022
See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on C-PACE Financing.

Hotel Lawyer: Another Commercial PACE (C-PACE) financing closed

David Sudeck and his team at the Global Hospitality Group® at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP assisted in structuring a $103 million loan for Chinese Hospital in San Francisco, a non-profit community hospital. This transaction is the largest ever C-PACE transaction in the United States.

Chinese-Hospital-e1644620367122

photo: chinesehospital-sf.org

Property: Chinese Hospital
Location: San Francisco, CA
Size of C-PACE Loan: $103 million

How we can help with Commercial PACE (C-PACE) financing

C-PACE lending has become an important and fast-growing sub-specialty in our hotel finance capabilities. We work with C-PACE providers/lenders and borrowers. In fact, we have been fortunate enough to work with one of the leading providers of C-PACE financing as they expand their national platform.

We welcome inquires to see if we can help you evaluate potential PACE financing opportunities. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

19 January 2022

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on ADA Compliance and Defense.

Serial ADA litigants are continuing to face challenges in the courts as dozens of cases alleging a failure to include accessibility information on hotel websites are being dismissed. Martin Orlick, Chair of JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group, describes one such case faced by a JMBM client below. This successful outcome is good news for hotels worried about Reservation Rules lawsuits.

Serial Plaintiff’s “Reservation Rule” Lawsuit Against California Hotel Dismissed

by
Martin Orlick, Chair, JMBM’s ADA Compliance & Defense Group

In another blow to serial ADA litigation against hotels, a judge in the Northern District of California has issued an opinion dismissing the case against JMBM client OCI, which owns and operates a Comfort Inn & Suites near the San Francisco International Airport.

Brian Whitaker, who has filed nearly 2,000 ADA lawsuits in the last two years, claimed that OCI failed to include enough detail in its online description of accessible features, violating the ADA’s “Reservation Rule.” JMBM filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of OCI, which was granted on January 6, 2022. This is the second Reservation Rule cases dismissed by this judge. The opinion is available here.

The Reservation Rule refers to ADA guidelines requiring that hotels include information about accessible rooms and features on their website, so that guests know before booking if they are able to safely and comfortably stay at the property. A hotel may be ADA compliant if it includes either a bathtub or roll-in shower, for example, but some guests may need to know which option is provided in order to determine if the room meets their needs. CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

18 January 2022

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.

“Practice Group of the Year” awarded to
JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group
by Law360

Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP (JMBM) is proud to announce that the Global Hospitality Group® (GHG) has been selected as one of Law360’s Practice Groups of the Year. This award “honors the practices behind the litigation wins and major deals that resonated throughout the legal industry in 2021” and winners are chosen out of hundreds of submissions. The recognition is a result of the unsurpassed experience of the GHG team members who, for the past 30 years, have helped clients with more than 4,500 hospitality properties, valued at more than $112 billion.

Some notable accomplishments by members of the GHG in 2021 include:

  • Workout, recapitalization, and repositioning of a $1 billion mixed-use lifestyle hotel project
  • Sale of an NYSE-traded hotel REIT’s entire portfolio of 15 upscale, select-service hotels for $305 million
  • Closing more than $210 million in Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy loans (C-PACE)
  • Assisting clients with hotel management and franchise agreements for properties worth more than $1.5 billion
  • Serving as primary counsel for lenders on more than $2.2 billion in the distressed hotel, retail, and office loans during the global pandemic, including over $500 million for a single client

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

29 December 2021

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest articles on Data Technology, Privacy & Security.

As hotels find new ways to use technology to attract guests and enhance their properties, they need to remain aware of the security challenges these technologies present.

Bob Braun, senior member of JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® and Co-Chair of the Firm’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Group, explains three basic issues for 2022 that all hotel owners need to be aware of to ensure their business and guest information remains secure.

Security Challenges in the Hotel Industry
by
Bob Braun, Hotel Lawyer

Like virtually all industries, the hotel industry continues to be challenged by cybersecurity concerns. As we approach 2022, hotel owners and operators need to address some basic issues that impact the security of their systems and their guests.

  • Wi-Fi. Providing wireless internet to guests has become a “must-do” for hotels – it’s not too much of an overstatement to say that a potential guest won’t stay at a hotel that doesn’t provide free Wi-Fi. But hotel Wi-Fi systems, particularly those in public areas, have long been a soft underbelly of cybersecurity. In the past 10 days, TechCrunch+ reported that “an internet gateway used by hundreds of hotels to offer and manage their guest Wi-Fi networks has vulnerabilities that could put the personal information of their guests at risk.” The system uses hardcoded passwords that are easy to guess and allow an attacker to gain remote access to the gateway’s settings and databases; they can then use that knowledge to access and exfiltrate guest records, or reconfigure the gateway’s networking settings to unwittingly redirect guests to malicious webpages.

CONTINUE READING →

Published on:

27 December 2021

See how JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® can help you.
Click here for the latest on labor and employment guidance.

Labor & Employment New Year Round-Up
What to Expect in 2022

Several new pieces of California legislation have either recently gone into effect or will take effect in 2022, impacting nearly all employers and how they handle employment agreements, disability related to COVID, training, rehiring and retention, and a range of other practices. A new presidential administration also means a shift in the political landscape and the role played by the NLRB, OSHA and other regulatory bodies.

Our round-up will help you determine which key issues may impact you in 2022; contact us to be sure you’re ready for all these upcoming changes. Click the “read more” link for each topic to see a comprehensive summary.

Expansions to the California Family Rights Act

Effective January 1, 2022, AB 1033 adds “parent-in-law” to the list of persons that an employee may take time off to care for, pursuant to the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). It also recasts the notice provisions of the small employer family leave mediation pilot program to require the DFEH to notify an employee of the requirement for mediation prior to filing a civil action, and requires the employee to contact the DFEH’s dispute resolution division prior to filing an action.

What this means for employers: Employers should review family leave policies to ensure they are compliant with AB 1033. Although the law adds a new category of person an employee may take time off to care for, it does not expand the total amount of leave an employee is entitled to take per 12 month period. Small employers should be aware of their ability to request mediation, and should consult with labor and employment counsel immediately upon receiving notice by a plaintiff or the DFEH that a plaintiff is seeking a civil lawsuit—the deadline to request a mediation is only 30 days from receipt of notice.

Read the full article.

Changes to the Fair Employment and Housing Act

Effective January 1, 2022, SB 807 amends various statutes concerning the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) procedures when enforcing California’s civil rights law—notably, the FEHA. These changes include tolling the deadline for the DFEH to file a civil action under the FEHA while a dispute resolution is pending, increasing the amount of time employers must keep certain records, and authorizing the DFEH to appeal court decisions.

What this means for employers: Employers should review their current record retention policies and amend them as necessary. This also provides an opportunity to ensure that employers are retaining all the necessary records so that they do not face unnecessary penalties or subject themselves to avoidable liability. SB 807’s tolling of the statute of limitations deadline provides additional leeway to employees who are seeking redress, and the authorization for the DFEH to appeal decisions grants it additional flexibility when pursing actions against employers.

Read the full article. CONTINUE READING →

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