The attorney for the owners of Rye Brook’s Doral Arrowwood Hotel and Conference Center (DCCA), Leonard Benowich of White Plains, is talking in civil, negotiating fashion with the attorneys for the U.S. Bank Association, the Trustee for those who can foreclose on the hotel and sell it to the highest bidder when their loans to DCCA come due in early 2020.
He’s also talking to Benchmark Management, the company managing the hotel on DCCA’s behalf since 2015, whom DCCA denounced in bitter fashion in previous court documents filed in State Supreme Civil Court in Manhattan and attempted to fire.
And, of course, he’s talking to White Plains based State Supreme Court Judge Gretchen Walsh in closed door conferences outside of public view in her courtroom’s antechambers. Judge Walsh holds unusual power over the hotel since US Bank said Doral technically defaulted on the loan, Benchmark threatened to close the hotel at the end of March, and the entire matter was brought to Judge Walsh – who in response appointed a Receiver to run the hotel until the dispute with the Bank was resolved – by repayment or refinancing of the Bank loan one way or the other. The Judge has also offered to talk to all parties in telephone conference calls during her lunch period or after business hours to help facilitate any potential settlement.
And on behalf of his clients, who call the shots in this dialogue, Benowich is acceding to requests from Judge Walsh’s court-appointed Receiver for Doral Hotel and Conference Center, Kirby Payne.
Benowich will not say a word on the record to the Westmore News. Nor will any of the other parties to the dispute.
But thanks to public filings in the case at the last court appearance for all concerned on Thursday, May 30, it is clear that DCCA is now staring at a deadline of Mar. 4, 2020 for, to quote the Court schedule, “conference-trial scheduling.”
That is clearly focusing the minds of DCCA and the Kaskell family and their relatives who have a financial stake in DCCA. With the potential loss of their property, the reality of the situation is finally on their doorstep – and thus that of their attorney, Mr. Benowich.
With a Court published amended order posted on the evening of May 30 on the Court’s public website (case 53946/2019), and a brief on-the-record dialogue in the courtroom after the closed-door conference with the Judge, the following can be reported:
Although previously Payne was being forced to terminate Benchmark as of May 31 and staff the hotel’s senior management with others of his choosing (in large measure because of DCCA’s objections), his desire to keep on General Manager Mike McNeil and his Benchmark subordinates on the hotel management team has been agreed to, and they will continue to report to Payne for the foreseeable future.
Under Judge Walsh’s orders, Payne must file a Receiver’s financial report on the 20th of every month.
The Westmore News has been unable to find his reports listed on any public Court website. Nor has Payne been required in open Court proceedings to discuss Doral’s current finances. Presumably it is in neither the Bank’s nor DCCA’s interest to let competitors know Doral’s current financial status.
But since Payne has been free to make critical repairs to Doral’s aging and unrepaired infrastructure from income the hotel has earned since his receivership became effective in March, the Westmore News can report that at least one very public and near collapse of the Hotel’s indoor and outdoor swimming pool’s piping and pumping infrastructure has been repaired, and for guests and Doral Sports Club members, normal swimming in a clear, properly filtered and chlorinated pool with acceptable swimming temperatures is once again possible.
Payne is also free, according to the court order, to request from the Bank funds he does not have on hand but needs for ongoing bills, repair, and maintenance, and the Bank is free to advance those funds or not.
Thus, for the months ahead, the hotel is in good hands. And, on weekends, if the scene in the hotel’s parking lots is any indication, business, at least on those weekends, is booming.