HSL turns to apartment projects, hopes to rebuild its hotel business

2013-04-22T00:00:00Z HSL turns to apartment projects, hopes to rebuild its hotel business Arizona Daily Star
April 22, 2013 12:00 am

HSL Properties has turned its focus to apartments, but company officials say they're not giving up on the hotel business.

The 2008 financial meltdown led to the foreclosure of many local properties and a slowdown in the hospitality industry. One of HSL's hotels, Embassy Suites, was acquired through bankruptcy proceedings. Two of its five Tucson hotels are currently closed for renovations.

"We really have been focusing on the apartment side of the equation more heavily for many years now," said Omar Mireles, HSL's executive vice president. "The downturn in the economy had some very severe impact on the hospitality business."

In 2011, the company tried to sell Randolph Park Hotel and Suites, 102 N. Alvernon Way, but after it spent a few months on the market, HSL officials opted to renovate rather than sell for a low price.

The hotel is closed now with a "furniture liquidation" sign out front and no sign of construction, but a $4.5 million conversion will turn it into a La Quinta Inn and Suites, Mireles said.

HSL has long been engaged in a standoff with city officials over how to pay for renovations of the company's deteriorating downtown Hotel Arizona.

Last year, HSL owner Humberto Lopez closed the hotel, in part to pressure officials to pledge some taxpayer money for the hotel's overhaul, the Arizona Daily Star reported. The hotel is next door to the Tucson Convention Center, which Mireles said would have to undergo renovations of its own to be competitive with other cities.

HSL wants a commitment from the city that it will improve the Convention Center and partner with the company at some level before the company will reopen the hotel, Mireles said.

"We certainly see a glimmer of hope for the possibility of re-engaging with that project. But the issue is, the fate of that property is very closely tied to the Convention Center," he said. "It has to be a unified approach."

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