LENOX -- The musical chairs-like hotel game on the Route 7 & 20 commercial strip has taken another twist and turn.

Toole Properties, owner of the 170-acre site that includes the Hampton Inn & Suites and the Yankee Inn, has a tentative agreement to sell the 79-room Hampton to Plymouth Realty Capital Corp., a Boston-based real estate investment firm.

The sale price is between $12 million and $13 million, Joseph M. Toole told The Eagle.

Toole explained that he was approached "completely out of the blue" by investors more than two months ago. He emphasized that the pending deal has no connection with his proposal, as the sole owner of the newly formed Brushwood Nominee Trust, to transfer the 92-room Courtyard by Marriott project from Dan Fox Drive in Pittsfield to a parcel on Brushwood Farms in Lenox.

"There's absolutely no relationship whatsoever, none," he said. The Marriott, which would cost about $10 million to build, had been financed by Hampden Bank of Springfield six months ago, Toole stated.

"I received an unsolicited email from a firm in Florida indicating that they had some large investment groups looking for certain types of high-valued, branded properties," said Toole, 58.

Apparently, he added, "they had picked up on our Marriott project and discussed whether they could acquire it upon completion."

After Toole told the investors he had no intention of selling the Marriott, he said, they voiced interest in exploring a purchase of the Hampton Inn & Suites on Pittsfield Road (Routes 7 & 20) in Lenox.

"Not thinking it would go anywhere, I told them I didn't have a problem with that," said Toole.

Eventually, Plymouth Realty expressed serious interest after inspecting the facility.

"They fell in love with the property," Toole said. "They met my price."

Toole Properties would be selling the 6-acre parcel containing the Hampton Inn but would retain ownership of about 160 surrounding acres, including the Yankee Inn. Much of the undeveloped property behind the inn, which adjoins the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, would be held by Lenox Land Trust as part of a conservation restriction, he said.

According to Plymouth's announcement, the pending transaction is part of a series of potential acquisitions that also involves Hampton Inns in Flemington, N.J., and in Niceville, Fla.

In its announcement, Plymouth described the Hampton Inn in Lenox, constructed in 2008, as an "upscale limited service" property with a year-round occupancy rate just above 75 percent and net operating income of $1,416,000.

"I have mixed feelings," Toole said, adding that most Hampton Inn staffers have been there since it opened in April 2008.

"I broke the news to a couple of the managers over the weekend," he said, "and it's a very somber mood, because it's their baby."

But, he added, "when a party comes along and makes an offer that attains a certain level, one cannot dismiss it out of hand."

The agreed-upon purchase price is similar to the Hampton's most recent appraisal, which came in higher than Toole expected.

"The whole thing was very surprising to me," he added. "The property has been a great performer and has achieved very high ratings within the Hilton system for guest satisfaction and quality assurance."

Toole said the current staff would be retained under agreement with InterMountain Management, LLC, of Monroe, La., which would operate the hotel.

Plymouth's announcement noted that the purchase is subject to financing arrangements as well as approval by Hilton Worldwide, which operates several Hampton brand names. It also must be accepted by shareholders of Plymouth, a publicly traded company on the TSX Venture Exchange, a Canadian stock market based in Calgary, Alberta.

Asked about his confidence level, Toole responded, "I tend to take a very neutral attitude. When and if the closing occurs, then I'll believe it."

He expects the deal to be resolved one way or another by the end of February.

Toole Lodging Group Inc. also operates the Yankee Suites Extended Stay on West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@yahoo.com,
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto