Delivering a letter of intent to purchase the Heathman Hotel and then telling the media about it late last month was the easy part for Rim Corp CEO Mark Burden. Now he has to deliver the financing. Now he isn’t talking.

Heathman Hotel Group president Bruce Fery is, however. After being forced by Burden’s admission to also acknowledge the LOI, Fery is making it very clear there’s a lot left to be done if a purchase and sale agreement is to result.

“We like (Rim Corp.), and it’s a serious offer, that’s why we are dealing with them,” Fery told late last week. “But we’ve been down this road before and had it not work out. A lot of things are still uncertain; there could be financing issues.”

Nonetheless, after Fery confirmed the existence of the LOI to a weekly business journal whose headline read ‘Heathman may have a buyer,’ the local daily spoke to Burden and took it a few steps further the next day with “Heathman Sale Imminent.” A local public relations company, running blocker for Burden, says the company is no longer commenting on the sale.

Admittedly uncomfortable with all the pre-closure publicity, Fery tells that attorneys are working on finalizing the deal, and an announcement could come as soon as this week or as late as never. Rim Corp. has made unsuccessful advances for the Heathman in the past, Fery said. All told, there have been four offers on the property in the past 18 months, he said.

If successful, the deal would end a long period of local ownerhsip of the Heathman, a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and halt the existence of the high-end and highly-regarded Heathman Restaurant that shares the street level with the hotel’s lobby at 1001 SW Broadway. Rim is reportedly talking with the Portland-based McCormick & Schmick’s seafood restaurant chain.

The upscale, 150-room hotel was built in 1927 and sits adjacent to the Portland Center for the Performing Arts, which includes the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Fery wouldn’t reveal the offered price — there is no list price for the hotel, because it has never been put on the market by its current owners — but it is expected to sell for several times its appraised value of $17.31 million.

A $2.5 million renovation improved guestrooms and created a tea room in 1998. The hotel and restaurant brought in $11 million in revenue in 1999. Through the first six months of this year, revenue for the hotel is off between 5% and 6%, while restaurant revenue is up by a similar percentage, Fery said.

The Heathman Group, owned by the Stevenson family of Bingen, Wash., owns four hotels and five restaurants. The family also runs the STS Lumber Co. in Bingen. Rim Corp. owns and operates 17 mid-to-low priced chain hotels in California, and is on the hunt for other Portland properties.

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