The doors to La Renaissance were locked Wednesday afternoon amid reports that the popular East Windsor banquet facility that has played host to myriad proms, graduation ceremonies and wedding receptions throughout the years is subject to a court-ordered foreclosure sale in April.
Upon hearing the news, several customers who had already put down a deposit to hold a function at the facility have contacted the Attorney General’s office and the state Department of Consumer Protection hoping for help with recouping their money and securing a new venue for their event.
The owners of La Renaissance, located on Route 5, have been going through foreclosure proceedings since July of 2012, according to the state judicial website.
Earlier this month, a judge ordered a strict foreclosure sale of the properties at 53 and 55-59 Prospect Hill Road and scheduled it for Saturday, April 27. The sale had been initially scheduled for Feb. 9, but because of the blizzard, the date was postponed, according to court records.
In July 2012, Peoples United Bank filed paperwork with the state superior court claiming that Dharamshi, LLC, Arul Vachhani, Sunil Bhatt and several others listed as owners of the properties and holders of two mortgages, owed the bank more than $2.2 million, according to court documents.
That November, a state court judge ordered a strict foreclosure on the properties and assigned Constantine Constantine, Esq., of Glastonbury, as the committee to oversee the sale, noting that the fair market value, at that time, for both parcels was close to the amount owed on the mortgages.
A number of consumers have said that, despite the order for the foreclosure sale, the owners of La Renaissance continued to book events - and accept deposits - that were scheduled to take place after the sale.
One such case is that of Jose Rivera, who wrote in a complaint to the Attorney General’s office that the owners of La Renaissance took two $2,000 payments - $4,000 in total - as a deposit for a July wedding reception without telling Rivera that the facility was due to be sold.
Rivera said that he and his fiancée are now looking for a new venue to host their wedding reception, in addition to possibly having lost $4,000.
The state Attorney General’s office has fielded dozens of similar complaints from people who have said that they have deposited thousands of dollars to secure dates at La Renaissance, according to Susan Kinsman, director of communications of the Attorney General’s office.
“The Office of the Attorney General is looking into the La Renaissance matter with the Department of Consumer Protection,” Kinsman wrote in an e-mail to Patch.
Telephone calls to La Renaissance and its owners were unanswered. A message left with the attorney of one of La Renaissance’s owners was not returned.
Even with the uncertainty surrounding the current ownership of La Renaissance, there still is a possibility that the banquet facility will be purchased and continue to run under new ownership.
The Hartford Courant reported that attorney Gus Constantine, who is running the auction in the case, said that “there were about a half dozen parties interested in bidding on the property, and at least two that have enough capital to step in and run the business once the sale closes.”
But that wasn’t enough assurance for several local high schools that had spring events scheduled at La Renaissance.
East Windsor High School, which held its last two graduations at La Renaissance and planned to have this year’s ceremony at the banquet facility, recently decided to move this year’s graduation to another location, according to Principal Edward Keleher.
Keleher said that the school put down a $500 deposit with La Renaissance and that he would seek to recoup the money if possible.
In addition, the Rockville High School junior prom was scheduled to take place at the venue on May 4.
Principal Eric Baim said $1,000 from the Class of 2014 account is tied up as a deposit.
"I realize that $1,000 is a nonrefundable deposit under contract, so when everything blows over, hopefully we can get it back," he said.
He then paused.
"But we can't wait. We're looking at other options," he said.
After examining several choices, including holding the prom at the school and possibly pushing the event back to June, RHS administrators decided to put a deposit down on the Riverview in Simsbury for May 10.
“The kids like the atmosphere of a banquet hall," Baim said. "We are told the dates (at La Renaissance) are being honored, but we do not feel comfortable with it."
Other area banquet facilities have stepped in to provide assistance to consumers who feel like they could be left out in the cold.
The Courant reported that La Notte Weddings and Banquets in East Windsor is offering a discount for consumers who have been affected by the La Renaissance situation.
NBC30 reported that Farmington Gardens is similarly offering discounts for wedding receptions that were previously scheduled at La Renaissance.
Anyone who has similar complaints with La Renaissance is encouraged to contact the Department of Consumer Protection at firstname.lastname@example.org.