Bob Shallit

Bob Shallit: Receiver takes over Le Rivage Hotel

Published: Tuesday, Sep. 13, 2011 - 12:02 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Sep. 30, 2011 - 7:56 pm

Sacramento's troubled Le Rivage Hotel is now being run by a court-appointed receiver as its lenders move toward a possible foreclosure.

The 101-room luxury hotel went into default last September. Since then, its local owners have been in talks with lender OneWest Bank to modify the property's $25 million loan.

How those talks are going is unclear.

An auction sale of the property was scheduled for Aug. 29 by OneWest, according to documents filed with the Sacramento County recorder's office. But the sale was canceled and no new auction date has been set, says receiver Chris Bryan, who was appointed to run the hotel earlier this summer.

Bob Cook, managing partner of the local ownership group, declined to comment. So did officials with OneWest.

The stylish hotel has earned rave reviews since opening in January 2008, but it has faced problems because of a slumping economy and a remote location.

Garbage time

Speaking of Le Rivage, its original developer is now working on a new project far from Sacramento.

Bob Leach, whose involvement with the hotel led him into a personal bankruptcy filing, has a consulting role in a planned $125 million waste-to-energy plant in Recife, Brazil.

As envisioned by developer Kogenergy International of Sacramento, the biomass facility would take 1,500 tons of city garbage each day and convert it to steam and electricity.

A Samsung Group subsidiary would build the plant and financing is being pledged from a South Korean firm, Consus Asset Management, which is working with Leach on a future Sacramento-area hotel project.

The various participants have signed a memorandum of understanding and Kogenergy co-founder Rubens DePaula says he's hopeful of wrapping up financing details next month.

Leach tells us he's optimistic, too, because Brazil is doing so well.

"I can tell you," he says, "that the economy in Brazil is doing much better than the economy in the U.S."

Natural man

It's one of the region's great business tales.

High school grad picks fruit in the Sacramento Valley and sells it to natural food stores. Gradually he expands into new markets, adds trucks and employees, forms a company called Mountain People's Warehouse and then merges it with an East Coast firm to create what's now a $4 billion Rhode Island-based company, United Natural Foods Inc., which he chairs.

"The classic American dream," Michael Funk says of his rags-to-riches story.

Next week, Funk is traveling from his home in Nevada City to Baltimore to receive the highest award presented by the Organic Trade Association.

Don't expect the 57-year-old Funk to change his countercultural ways for this occasion.

He'll sport his customary and now graying pony tail. He'll wear jeans and a loose shirt, just as he did when he was his firm's CEO. He certainly won't put on a tie.

"I've never worn (one)," he says, "in my whole life."

This dinner's no joke

A rabbi, priest and imam walk into a restaurant …

The punch line? You and three friends can join them for dinner. If, that is, you're the high bidder at this week's fundraising auction for the Wellspring Women's Center.

The nonprofit's development director, Yolanda Torrecillas, came up with the idea for a meal with local religious leaders. Evan's Kitchen is hosting and donating food.

"It's an opportunity to break bread and build understanding," Torrecillas says.

The dinner is one of 10 items to be offered Wednesday at the Wellspring event. For more info, go to www.wellspringwomen.org.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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