Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2014

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Debbie Reynolds resort may get new name with a new owner

The Debbie Reynolds hotel-casino has lost a buyer, and may lose its name.

Florida time-share developer David Siegle has dropped his $15.6 million bid to buy the bankrupt resort near the Las Vegas Strip.

Siegle's decision leaves court-approved backup buyer Calstar Corp. 30 days to decide whether it wants the property.

And Calstar principal Saylor Kennedy said he has not yet decided on a theme for the resort.

"I don't know if we'll keep the Debbie Reynolds theme," Kennedy said.

Siegle had planned to add up to 1,000 new time-share rooms to the resort's current 193-room hotel. Siegle's company would have operated the time-share portion of the business and leased the gaming and entertainment operations back to Reynolds and her son, Todd Fisher.

Siegle did not immediately return a call for comment. David Atwell, the Resort Properties of America real estate broker representing the Debbie Reynolds resort, said Siegle simply decided that the $15.6 million he had bid was too much.

Siegle originally wanted to pay $14 million for the resort, Atwell said. But when Calstar made a competing offer in a bankruptcy court hearing last month, Siegle was forced to up his offer by $1.6 million.

"Apparently after careful weighing of the situation, he felt the additional $1.6 million was just too much extra money to pay for the property, and elected to step aside for the backup buyer, Calstar," Atwell said.

Calstar now has 30 days to perform due diligence on the resort, and decide whether to pursue its $15.5 million competing offer, Atwell said.

"We will now be going through the continuing process with Calstar," Atwell said.

Kennedy said the property isn't suitable for timeshares because of its location at 305 Convention Center Drive. He said he would make acquiring a gaming license for the hotel a top priority -- all it has now are slot machines.

"They really didn't come forth with any plans," Atwell said of Calstar. "Obviously, they're going to develop the vacant acerage."

More than half of the 7 acres Debbie Reynolds property is not developed, he said.

The Debbie Reynolds resort declared bankruptcy last July, after ILX Inc., a Phoenix-based time share developer, backed out of a $16.8 million acquisition offer. At the same time, actress Debbie Reynolds, the resort's owner, declared personal bankruptcy. Reynolds had guaranteed a $1.1 million loan obtained by the resort in early 1997 to hold it over until after the ILX sale.

Siegle, head of Orlando, Fla. time-share developer Westgate Resorts, would have paid $15.6 million, or about 3 cents per share, for 92.5 percent of the Debbie Reynolds resort's stock. The $15.6 million would have settled the $20 million in debt the resort's creditors have claimed.

The remaining 7.5 percent of the resort would have been split between unsecured creditors, who would have received 5 percent, and current shareholders, who would have received 2.5 percent.

Word that Siegle had changed his mind reached the Reynolds Friday, "much to our surprise," Atwell said.

Todd Fisher did not return a call for comment.

In a related development, the Hollywood Motion Picture & Television Museum located at the property "elected to terminate its relationship with Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino and removed a majority of its collection from the property," according to a Debbie Reynolds release.

The Museum would have been an integral part of the Siegle deal, Atwell said.

Sun wire services contributed to this report.

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