Hong Kong investor crushed by O’Hare hotel’s devaluation

Seller lost $19 million from 2018 purchase

Bingdong Zhao of Junson Capital and the The Hilton Rosemont at 5550 North River Road
Bingdong Zhao of Junson Capital and the The Hilton Rosemont at 5550 North River Road (Facebook, Google Maps)

A Hilton hotel near O’Hare International Airport sold for 50 percent of its previous valuation this week, marking a giant loss for its international owner.

The hotel traded hands on December 21 for $18 million, according to Cook County property records. An LLC affiliated with Ketu Amin, the president of Schaumburg-based technology firm Vinakom purchased the property from Hong Kong-based Junson Capital.

Neither buyer nor seller responded to a request for comment.

Junson Capital purchased the 300-room hotel in 2018 as part of a seven-hotel deal worth $650 million, according to a Crain’s story at the time. The Hilton Rosemont was valued at $36.9 million within that deal.

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Now just five years later it’s worth half that.

Junson isn’t the first overseas investor to struggle to recoup its investment in Chicago hotels. In October, a venture of Hong Kong-based Gaw Capital Partners listed a 285-room hotel at 1301 North State Parkway, for sale without an asking price.

Gaw will likely take a loss on the 17-story property it bought for $61.5 million in July 2016. It is unlikely to fetch bids above the $38.5 million loan Gaw borrowed against it in 2019. Listing information suggests Gaw invested about $11 million into renovating the property.

The historic hotel was rebranded as the Ambassador Chicago as a nod to its history as the former Ambassador East hotel, which opened in 1926. In its heyday the property attracted celebrities to its Pump Room restaurant and had the likes of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe staying in its suites.

Also in October, the publicly traded REIT Host Hotels sold a 254-room suburban Marriott for $14.5 million in a markdown of more than half of the $30 million the company said the property was worth in a 2021 annual report.