Trenton’s troubled Lafayette Yard Hotel has been auctioned off to a media company for $6 million, according to press accounts. Before the late businessman Shelley Zieger persuaded Marriott to open a franchise in the city, Trenton had the dubious distinction of being the only state capital without its own hotel, a status that threatened to return if the bankrupt Lafayette Yard had not found a buyer.
However, a buyer did emerge when Edison Broadcasting, a New York-based broadcasting company outbid Winslow Township-based VBCE, which owns Dunkin Donuts franchises around the state.
The city still owes $14 million on the 127-room State Street hotel, which was built in 2002 and operated by a nonprofit group, the Lafayette Yard Development Corporation. The hotel, located near the War Memorial, was built at a cost of $60 million in state and city funds, including its parking garage, which is owned by the Trenton Parking Authority and not part of the deal. The seven-story hotel is also home to a restaurant and a 6,000 square-foot ballroom.
According to nj.com, bidding began at $5.5 million for the hotel, which is under bankruptcy protection. The hotel was on track to lose about $880,000 this year.
Edison executive vice president Deepak Viswanath told reporters his company owns TV and radio stations, and that this was the company’s first hotel. In March Edison agreed on a $20 million sale of WDVB-LD, a low-power TV station that broadcasts Latino and Indian programs, to Locus Point Networks. The station’s call letters stand for Deepak Viswanath Broadcasting. His parents, Banad and Sathya Viswanath, own the company.
Viswanath told reporters he wanted to get into the hospitality business because he had family members who had done well operating hotels.
Marriott abandoned the hotel this summer and was replaced by a management company called Marshall Hotels. Wyndham Hotels had reportedly been in discussions to put its name on Lafayette Yard this summer, but backed out after the LYDC did not have enough money to do renovations. However, Viswanath told reporters he would make the necessary updates.
Wyndham pulled out of the central New Jersey market last fall, when it sold its Princeton Forrestal Hotel and Conference Center on Scudders Mill Road to InnZen Hospitality, and the building was divided into a Holiday Inn Express and a Crowne Plaza.