Historic Mendocino coastal inn to reopen in June

  • 12/6/2008:B2: Visitors tour the grounds of the Heritage House in Little River. No buyer was found for the inn at an auction held Friday in Ukiah.
    12/4/2008:E2: Heritage House near Little River is closing. The 37-acre property, one of the first inns on the Mendocino coast, is is scheduled to be auctioned at 10 a.m. Friday on the courthouse steps in Ukiah for a minimum bid of $27 million.
    6/25/2008:E1: Heritage House on the Mendocino County coast is in the middle of a cash crisis. Its owner, Lantana Mendocino LLC, has defaulted on a $24 million loan less than three years after it bought the complex.
    9/2/2007: D1: Heritage House
    6/7/2006: E1: Jane Smitham and Cristian Almstrand tour the grounds of the Heritage House in Little River.
    10/5/2004: A1: Jane Smitham and Cristian Almstrand tour the grounds of Heritage House, near Little River, on Monday afternoon . A luxury hotel company has purchased the 37-acre property.
    PC: Photo by Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat Jane Smitham and Cristian Almstrand (cq) tour the grounds of the Heritage House, near Little River, on Monday afternoon, October 4, 2004.

An iconic Mendocino County resort with sweeping views of the rugged coastline will be reopening in June, four years after it shut down amid financial and legal problems.

The Heritage House has "100 percent new ownership," said Bill Heaney, a hospitality consultant who is overseeing the reopening for the new owner, Heritage House LP. He refused to divulge the name of the buyer but said the resort is American owned.

"I think he wants to keep his privacy for awhile," Heaney said.

Workers are scurrying to clear brush, make repairs and spruce up the 66-unit luxury resort, which includes a main building, cottages, spa and restaurant along Highway 1 in Little River. It sits on a 37-acre parcel overlooking the ocean.

At least 20 of the cottages will be ready for occupation in June, Heaney said.

Heritage House LP purchased the resort in March for $8 million, almost $20 million less than the price sought at auction in 2008, according to county and court records. It previously was owned by German bank WESTLP AG, which foreclosed on the former property owner, Lantana Mendocino LLC.

The bank lowered the auction price to $18.2 million but there were no takers at that time.

Lantana owed the bank $27 million, according to a lawsuit filed by the bank. Lantana co-owner David Wilk also owed more than $300,000 in taxes to Mendocino County. He collected bed taxes from guests but did not turn them over to the county, officials said.

Wilk was charged with misappropriation of public funds and grand theft embezzlement in 2008. The charges were dropped in 2009 after he paid the county about $210,000, said Mendocino County Treasurer and Tax Collector Shari Schapmire.

Lantana purchased the resort from former San Diego Mayor Maureen O'Connor in 2005 for $19.5 million. It then borrowed another $4.5 million from the bank in 2007 for an ambitious remodeling project that some say stripped the resort of its coastal character.

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