The Real Deal Miami

Fort Lauderdale motel allegedly hasn’t paid taxes in years, files for bankruptcy

Broward County says Ramada by Wyndham Fort Lauderdale-Oakland Park owes $1.17M in taxes
By Paul Brinkmann | January 24, 2019 08:45AM

Ramada Oakland Park Inn

The operating company for the Ramada by Wyndham Fort Lauderdale-Oakland Park has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid allegations it hasn’t paid Broward County’s tourism taxes for years.

The Oakland Park Inn Inc. currently claims at least $3.2 million in liabilities, but a bankruptcy attorney for the company said he’s still trying to get a grip on the total financial picture. “I’ll know more very soon. I believe there is financing for a bankruptcy reorganization,” said attorney Kevin Gleason.

As an operating company, Oakland Park Inn lists only $7,000 in assets. Best Western and Wyndham both have claims in the bankruptcy. Best Western had won a judgment against the company in Arizona, but Gleason said that judgment is under appeal.

Broward County has filed suit against the motel company in Broward Circuit Court, accusing it of not paying hotel tourism taxes dating back eight years, for a total of $1.17 million. According to the lawsuit, the county has sent “approximately 100 notices” of delinquency going back to 2010.

Attempts to reach the motel at 3001 North Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, or its CEO Walter Johnson Jr., were not immediately successful. Calls to the phone number listed on its website didn’t go through, and neither did calls to a temporary number shown on the website.

In spring of 2018, staff from the tax collector’s office reportedly went to the hotel and demanded to see the financial books and reporting there, but Johnson refused, according to the county’s lawsuit.

The owner of the property, the Anna Marquez Trust, has filed suit to evict Johnson’s company. That lawsuit also accuses Oakland Park Inn Inc. of failing to pay taxes, failing to maintain windstorm insurance coverage for the property, and allowing maintenance problems to persist that aren’t in compliance with requirements of insurance companies.

The motel, built in the mid-1980s, sits on about 2.3 acres. It’s just south of the Coral Center shopping plaza and the intersection of Oakland Park Boulevard and Federal Highway.