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SAN CLEMENTE, CA-Tenant-in-common sponsor Argus Realty Investors LP has formed a new division called the Argus Hospitality Group to acquire and develop hotels, hotel condominiums, resorts and country clubs. Argus has named Rick Vesci, former director of resort operations for Prudential/Ryness Co., as managing director of the group.

Vesci tells GlobeSt.com that Argus Hospitality Group is already working on a broad spectrum of hospitality industry deals and developments. These include an equestrian resort in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, a rustic adventure resort north of Puerto Vallarta, a ski resort in Deer Valley, UT and a hotel condominium project in Orange County.

Although 1031 exchange investors will remain a chief source of investment income for Argus and its offerings will continue to be primarily tenant-in-common deals, the company will also offer some investments under its hospitality group that will be more like “life-style investments,” Vesci tells GlobeSt.com. He explains that some of the projects it is working on in Mexico, Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, for example, will be most attractive to buyers seeking a “life-style” purchase.

“The $137 billion (revenues) US hospitality industry and leisure real estate in Latin America are in strong growth cycles and our clients tell us they want to participate in that expansion,” says Dick Gee, Argus chairman and CEO. Tim Snodgrass, president of Argus, adds that the company “will be an extremely selective buyer” in the hospitality sector, just as it is in other sectors.

Vesci, in addition to his previous post at Prudential/Ryness, also headed project development in the mid Atlantic region for Club Corporation of America, the largest private club owner-manager in the US, and was real estate adviser to Four Seasons Residence Club at Aviara in San Diego County. He says that Argus will offer various types of properties and ownership options through conventional real estate channels as well as through its established distribution network of licensed investment brokers.

The projects in Mexico and some other locales would include offerings of life-style properties to investors. Offerings like the proposed hotel condominium in Orange County “would attract investors who want an even more flexible exit strategy than the typical TIC deal” because individual condo units could be sold more easily than say, a fractional interest in an office building, Vesci explains.

The equestrian resort in Mexico is being developed by a Mexican developer, with Argus expected to operate in a sales and marketing capacity in representing that developer to introduce this product to American buyers. In Puerto Vallarta, Argus is negotiating with the developers to joint venture with them as a co-developer.

The Utah project involves a 4,000-acre site that would include three hotels, a golf club and a full ski resort village. Vesci says Argus is looking at being both an investor in and a sales and marketing agent for that development.

The hotel condominium project is an existing property in Orange County that Argus would likely market through its broker-dealer network. In addition to it and the other three projects listed, Argus is working on a variety of other prospective hospitality industry deals, Vesci says.

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