There's an extra $200,000 in the pockets of Paul Michael Bliss, and he's certainly not complaining.
The Clarence construction contractor and developer won Thursday's court-ordered foreclosure sale for a Lancaster hotel — just one week after he nearly paid significantly more at a public auction for the same property.
With his bid of $1.35 million, Bliss gained the right to purchase the Buffalo Airport Inn at 50 Freeman Road. His offer beat out lender Zions Bank of Utah, following a rapid back-and-forth volley of bids between Bliss, the bank and a third bidder.
The purchase price comes just shy of the total debt of $1.38 million that Zions is owed on the property. But strangely, it's far less than the motel fetched last week when Cash Realty & Auctions put it up for sale for the owner, Singh Lodging Inc.
That auction, held Feb. 16 in one of the motel's fading guest rooms, drew 13 registered bidders and 30 attendees, but it came down in the end to Bliss and an Oregon investor participating by phone, who ultimately won at $1.575 million. Bliss had quit at $1.55 million.
Yet even though that offer would have exceeded the total debt, Singh rejected it, leaving the motel to the foreclosure auction.
"It was kind of bizarre," Bliss said, acknowledging that he ultimately got the motel for a lot less. "It doesn't make a lot of sense."
Singh Lodging, owned by Kabal S. Virk and Harjinder K. Virk, acquired the 88-room motel in January 2007 for $2.25 million, investing in upgrades over the last decade, including a new roof. After they defaulted on their loan, Zions initiated foreclosure and won a judgement in December.
The 30,435-square-foot motel, which sits on 1.92 acres just off Transit Road near Salvatore's Grand Hotel and the Thruway, was formerly a Microtel, a Knights Inn and a Rodeway Inn before doing business under its current name. It is appraised at $2.8 million and is currently assessed at $2.5 million, with about $80,000 in annual taxes.
Bliss, who said he represents a group of investors working through Bliss Construction, said they were attracted by the motel's location near Transit Road, the Thruway exit and the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. He declined to elaborate on their plans, aside from saying that his company would "develop, build and own" the project.
He now has 30 days to close the purchase. "We're really excited about the property," he said, "and hopefully we'll be able to announce something after 30 days."