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March 04. 2013 7:12PM

Radisson Hotel claims excessive assessments by city of Nashua

NASHUA - A local hotel is claiming the City of Nashua issued excessive and disproportionate assessments for its hotel facility, maintaining it is entitled to three years worth of tax abatements.

A superior court judge is reviewing a civil suit filed against the city by Radisson hotel owner AFP 105 Corp. and Southern New Hampshire Hospitality LLC.

An assessing expert representing the Radisson Hotel, Wesley Reeks, previously testified that the city's assessment of the property from 2009-2011, averaging between $9.6 million and $12.2 million, should have been closer to an assessed value of $4.9 to $6.7 million, according to court documents on file at Hillsborough County Superior Court.

"Despite the undisputed changes in market conditions caused by the recession and other forces, and the challenges faced by this hotel, the city failed to either adjust its assessments . or issue abatements in response to the requests for abatement made by both the prior owner and then AFP," say court records filed by Attorney Margaret Nelson of Sulloway and Hollis. " . The city presented no evidence to explain or support its assessments of the hotel."?The two entities went to trial last month on the hotel's petition for tax abatement. Judge Jacalyn Colburn has taken the matter under advisement and is expected to issue a decision in the coming weeks or months.

Attorneys representing the hotel maintain the fair market value set by the city in 2011 - $10.2 million - is nearly double what the property is actually worth, according to court documents. Three years of assessments - 2009 to 2011 - are being challenged in court. Nelson is asking the court to rule that the city's assessments for tax years 2009 to 2011 were excessive and disproportionate, and that the Radisson is entitled to abatements based on Reeks' market value estimates.

Reeks' appraisal of the property is estimated at $6.7 million for 2009, $4.9 million for 2010 and $5.8 million for 2011. The city's assessments for those same years are $12.2 million for 2009, $9.6 for 2010 and $10.2 million for 2011, according to court records. A supplemental trial memo filed by the city's attorney, John Ratigan, argues that the hotel failed to adequately calculate the assessments.

"Mr. Reeks has provided an appraisal report that fails to inform or explain to the reader how or why he has made an adjustment to rooms' expense against total revenue that results in an approximate reduction in the fair market value of the property of $6 million," states the memo.

Ratigan goes on to say that the Radisson failed to carry its burden and prove through evidence that it has been disproportionately assessed.

According to the hotel's property taxes posted on the city's website, the Radisson paid about $320,000 in taxes in 2009, nearly $330,000 in property taxes in 2010, and about $336,000 in 2011 based on the city's assessed values of the hotel.

At the end of 2011, the landmark hotel was sold at a foreclosure auction to Attilio Petrocelli, president and CEO of United Capital Corp. in New York, for $5.5 million.

At the time, Petrocelli described the winning bid as a "very modest price," announcing the hotel will receive upwards of $6 million in renovations as the new owners plan to revitalize the castle-like facility. The 336-room, seven-story hotel that was originally built in 1981 sits on 17-acres off exit one of the F.E. Everette Turnpike.

"Our plans are to bring it up to its former glory," Petrocelli said following the auction, adding he is optimistic that the elegant landmark can once again become a destination place for events, proms and weddings.

Following a longstanding court dispute between the property's former owner and the mortgage note holder, a settlement was reached allowing the hotel to move forward with the foreclosure process in 2011.

Before the Radisson was purchased by Southern New Hampshire Hospitality in 2007, it was known as the Sheraton Tara Hotel.

khoughton@newstote.com



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