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LOWELL SUN - Stonehedge Inn sold for $3M at socially distanced auction

May 09, 2020

By ROBERT MILLS | rmills@lowellsun.com | Lowell Sun

May 9, 2020 at 3:52 p.m.

An unidentified bidder won a highly-regulated, socially distanced auction for the Stonehedge Hotel and Spa on Thursday with a $3 million bid, according to the auctioneer.

JJ Manning Auctioneers President Justin J. Manning said there were 11 registered bidders in the auction, which was conducted on the property at 160 Pawtucket Blvd., Tyngsboro, on Thursday at 11 a.m. He said the property was sold for $2.85 million plus an obligation to pay $150,000 in municipal liens.

Manning said the winning bidder was already in the hospitality industry, but that his company does not more than that.

"We do not disclose any of the bidder's contact info in any of our auctions," he said.

Tyngsboro Town Administrator Matt Hanson said on Friday that he has not yet heard from the winning bidder, but that he expected he would soon or once the property is closed on. Hanson confirmed the roughly $150,000 in municipal liens are for back taxes owed to the town.

The auction was initially scheduled for April but was moved to Thursday after a cease and desist issue was issued by the Tyngsboro Board of Health due to limitations placed on public gatherings during the pandemic.

The auction was held Thursday with a number of social distancing measures in place, Manning, said, and Hanson said the Board of Health worked with the auctioneer to make sure the plan was a good one.

Manning said the social distancing measures included requiring all bidders to pre-register with auctioneers to avoid contact via pens and tables; each bidder was allowed only one attendee at the auction; each bidder was assigned a bidder number one by one as they remained in their cars; once the actual auction began each bidder was directed to stand near traffic cones that were arranged to keep them all six feet apart; and each bidder, banker, lawyer and auctioneer present wore masks and brought their own pens.

Manning said this was the third large auction his firm has handled since the pandemic began.

"Buyers are active because of the stock market," he said. "Real estate has historically been a solid, tangible and reliable place to park money when the stock market shows signs of instability."

Whether an auction would occur was unclear for months as the property's holding company was in the midst of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But last month, the company, Boston East Tyngsboro Holdings LLC, filed a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case.

The motion came on the heels of a court order granting relief to the mortgage lender, Lowell Five Bank, allowing the foreclosure auction to move forward.

Boston East Tyngsboro Holdings had requested a delay in order to finalize a sale to Cayan Hospitality Group LLC, which put in a $5.3 million offer on the hotel. But according to the April motion, the company was not able to secure a purchase and sale agreement before the court issued its order granting relief to the Lowell Five Bank.

Manning said the Lowell Five Bank, the bank's attorneys and his auction staff ran the auction "with precision."

"Responsible practices were exercised by all involved in line with the currrent (Centers for Disease Control) regulations and the Governor's orders," Manning said.

Abhijit "Beej" Das, Boston East Tyngsboro Holdings LLC's signatory and resident agent, and a former congressional candidate, did not return a message seeking comment.

Das' company has managed the hotel since 2014, when it purchased the property for $4.25 million. Since then, the hotel has twice fallen behind on its local taxes, according to town officials.