TYNGSBORO — With just a week before the Stonehedge Hotel and Spa is set to go up for foreclosure auction, the hotel’s owner is taking the mortgage lender, Lowell Five Bank, to court.
Boston East Tyngsboro Holdings, LLC, the hotel’s parent corporation, filed a motion in Middlesex County Superior Court on Wednesday asking for a preliminary injunction to prevent the auction from going forward.
The company also filed a civil complaint against the bank seeking damages and injunctive relief related to “breach of contract, unjust enrichment, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, tortious interference with contract” and violations of consumer-protection laws under Massachusetts General Laws 93A.
Meanwhile, the hotel is still taking reservations; a Stonehedge front-desk employee who did not want to be identified, confirmed Monday that reservations are available beyond Dec. 5, the date the hotel is scheduled to hit the auction block.
Owner Abhijit “Beej” Das, CEO of Troca Hotels and Yachts and signatory and resident agent of Boston East Tyngsboro Holdings, LLC, said earlier this month that his company was not notified by Lowell Five of the foreclosure before learning about it on social media. He said at the time that the hotel, on Pawtucket Boulevard, has “made payments to be current” on its mortgage but that the bank “apparently did not accept them” because of a dispute around one of the terms of the commercial loan agreement.
In an email Monday, he again denounced Lowell Five and insisted that the auction will not go forward.
“The hotel will be open and operating normally on December 5th and beyond. Lowell Five Bank’s bad faith behavior will not be rewarded,” he wrote. “There will be no auction; we are taking steps to ensure that.”
Das, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress last fall, declined further comment.
The civil complaint filed in Middlesex County Superior Court on Wednesday alleges that the bank never disbursed the full loan amount of $3,850,000 and disbursed only $3,615,000. It also claims that Lowell Five did not accept a payment the company made in August to become current on its mortgage after receiving a notice of acceleration seeking collection of the debt in July.
The complaint also argues that the bank brought foreclosure proceedings because it knew the company was planning to refinance the loan through another lender and was “motivated by a desire not to lose control of a prized local asset that had undergone a multimillion-dollar facelift.”
Attorneys Mark D. Johnson and Robert C. Sacco are representing Das’ company in the case, according to the filings. A representative from Lowell Five was not reachable for comment on the suit Wednesday.
A hearing on Das’ motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 2 p.m., at Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn. The auction is scheduled for two days later, Thursday, Dec. 5, at 11 a.m.
Despite Das’ claims that Stonehedge will remain open for business, a man from Maine who is suing another hotel owned by Das’ company said he’s concerned clients may soon find themselves in the same position he was in last month, when his daughter’s wedding was canceled just days before it was scheduled to take place at the hotel.
John Ragucci put down a $1,000 deposit for his daughter Megan’s wedding at The Daniel Hotel in Brunswick, Maine, managed by Das’ company, Troca Hotels.
Ragucci said he and his daughter and her fiance visited the hotel on Oct. 22 to sign paperwork and do a final sampling of the menu for the wedding, which was scheduled for Nov. 2.
The family was aware that the hotel’s heating, ventilation and air control system had been broken since the beginning of the summer, but had been repeatedly told it would not affect the wedding, according to Ragucci. Two days later, he says, he returned to the hotel and spoke with the manager, Jeffrey Cappellieri, about small heaters that were being used in the guest rooms that he feared were not up to fire code.
He went back on Oct. 26 to review some last-minute details and unexpectedly found the property closed. He says he was told that Das shut the hotel down until the HVAC system could be repaired, citing information from fire officials that the small heaters could not be used and that the guest rooms could not be occupied without heat.
Ragucci says that though officials with the Brunswick Fire Department told him the building could still be used as a wedding venue, provided it was up to fire code and that guest rooms were not in use, Das closed the whole hotel nonetheless. Ragucci and his daughter rushed to find a new venue and were able to hold the ceremony at The Brunswick Hotel after a last-minute cancellation there.
“Thank God it worked out great. Thank God we were able to have the wedding,” Ragucci said. “But those two, three days, the pain in my daughter’s face was just — just horrible.”
Ragucci said he has filed suit against the hotel and Cappellieri in small-claims court seeking damages for the additional costs incurred from moving the wedding, as well as for the resulting emotional distress. He said he feels that the building was not properly maintained and that someone could have been hurt.
According to a report in the Brunswick Times Record, dozens of families who’d made reservations at The Daniel for parents weekend at Bowdoin College, which was also scheduled for that weekend, were also turned away with the hotel’s closure. The hotel reopened Nov. 15, the newspaper reported.
Das did not respond to an email requesting comment on the cancellations. Ragucci said after his experience at The Daniel, he called Stonehedge to inquire about the upcoming auction and was told reports of the auction were false and that the hotel is still taking reservations.
“If you’re foreclosing, how do you still take people’s money?” Ragucci said. “And how do you still tell people, ‘Oh, it’s a lie, we’re going to be open, it’s fine’?’”
Das has recently confronted other financial difficulties. In late 2018, the Stonehedge was at risk of losing its licenses due to more than $200,000 in unpaid taxes owed to the town of Tyngsboro. Since settling up with the town in April, the hotel has fallen behind on its payments again, with more than $70,000 owed for fiscal 2019 and 2020, according to Tyngsboro Treasurer/Collector Jennifer Finnigan.
In the 2018 congressional race, Das placed seventh among 10 Democrats in the September 2018 primary, with Lori Trahan finishing first. Early in the campaign, he loaned his campaign $325,000. In August, a civil warrant was issued for Das’ arrest in a small-claims case in which a judge ruled he owed his former campaign manager more than $7,000. That case was resolved in September, according to a Massachusetts trial court docket.