Investor buys stake in Hotel Syracuse

Israeli's interest is in developing holdings within the United States.

May 23, 2006

By Rick Moriarty
Staff writer

An Israeli investor who last week bought a large share of the Israeli company redeveloping the Hotel Syracuse complex says he plans to go forward with the project, calling the property a "grand historic treasure."

"Our business plan includes not only the redevelopment of the historic hotel rooms and ballrooms of this great asset, but also will include the development of new commercial businesses, restaurants, residences, parking and improved public spaces," the investor, Levi Kushnir, said in a statement.

"With the local team in place, together with our expanded abilities, this project will become a centerpiece once again for the city of Syracuse and the Central New York region."

Kushnir, an Israeli citizen with holdings throughout the world, made a major investment in Gmul Investment Co. Thursday, according to a joint statement from Kushnir and Gmul.

The Hotel Syracuse project, which is among the assets included in the deal, is a small part of the investment, according to the statement. But Kushnir's son, Elad, confirmed Monday that small part was valued at $25 million.

Another part of Kushnir's acquisition includes a 51 percent stake in Gmul Energy Ltd. for $27 million, according to Globes, an Israeli business publication. Gmul Energy's sole asset is a stake in GPM Investments

LLC, which operates 149 convenience stores and gas stations in the United States and provides fuel to 60 operators, some of which sub- lease the gas stations, the Globes reported.

The Hotel Syracuse, which opened on Warren Street in 1924, closed in May 2004 after years of financial difficulties under several owners. Gmul, which is based in Tel Aviv, planned to turn the newest building in the hotel complex, a 15-story tower opened in 1983, into 70 condominiums to be called Symphony Place.

In later phases, the original hotel would be renovated and turned into a 155-room business hotel and about 100 apartments. Plans include putting two floors of commercial space and three floors of loft apartments - a total of 15 apartments - into the adjacent Addis building on South Salina Street.

Kushnir, the controlling shareholder and chairman of Nechushtan Investments Ltd. and Tadiran Ampa Ltd., has no other investments in Upstate New York, his son said. His father's investment in the Hotel Syracuse project is part of a plan to expand his holdings in the United States, he said.

"We're looking to expand our base here," said Elad Kushnir. "The project is an amazing project. It has a lot of political support. The hotel is a landmark development. The numbers work. It's good for the community."

Rick Moriarty can be reached at 470-3148 or rmoriarty@syracuse.com.

2006 The Post-Standard.