Biz Buzz: Inn at Morro Bay to be auctioned

Hotelier John King’s Inn at Morro Bay is scheduled for public auction in a foreclosure sale today.

The 98-room hotel, located on the shores of Morro Bay, owes more than $14 million to at least two lenders, Wells Fargo and Missouri-based Virtual Realty Enterprises LLC, according to court documents. King also put his assets on the line when he gave his lenders a personal guarantee to repay the loans, according to his attorney, Fred Glick, who spoke to Judge Charles Crandall at a Superior Court hearing on the matter Wednesday.

King bought the Inn at Morro Bay in 1993. He owns five hotels in San Luis Obispo County, including Apple Farm Inn, Sycamore Springs Resort in Avila Valley and The Cliffs Resort in Pismo Beach, as well as Two Bunch Palms — a Desert Hot Springs resort — and property in Big Sur.

Glick, who represents both King and the Inn at Morro Bay LLC, told the court that arguments about the guarantee will be aired in court after they know the result of the sale of the inn at public auction.

Mike Casola, chief operating officer for King’s Boutique Hotel Collection and a spokesman for King in regards to the inn, told The Tribune on Wednesday that King has seen a lot of interest in buying the hotel, “but like everything these days, finding a price point that shows true value has been difficult.”

He did not know what would happen in the sale today, but he said “very often in times likes these, millionaires are made if they buy something like this at the right time.”

As the foreclosure process moved forward, a receiver was placed to manage the hotel’s accounts. Casola said they have worked to pay all the employees, and vendors have been paid off on a schedule. They have less than $20,000 in debt remaining to pay the vendors.

He did not know if the hotel would be closed for renovations after the sale.

King was flying to San Luis Obispo from Hawaii on Wednesday and could not reached by phone, Casola said.

— Melanie Cleveland

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The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce has promoted Ermina Karim to vice president of governmental affairs and economic development.

“We’re expanding our economic development efforts to create an atmosphere where people will start and expand businesses here, and Ermina will lead the way,” said David Garth, San Luis Obispo’s Chamber president and chief executive officer. “This effort is critical, because without future-oriented, head-of-household jobs, the local economy will be stagnant.”

Karim has worked at the chamber for nearly three years as the governmental affairs director.

She played a key role in creating the Chamber’s latest economic vision for San Luis Obispo.

Prior to joining the Chamber in 2007, Karim worked as a business reporter for The Tribune. Earlier, she worked in New York as a vice president in equity capital markets at Credit Suisse, a leading global financial services firm. She also spent several years as a financial journalist for print and online publications. She has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.

— Melanie Cleveland