The American Hotel & Motel Association will relocate from New York City to New York Avenue in the District on Feb.1, association executives said yesterday.

The association, which represents an industry with more than $44 billion in annual sales and nearly 1.5 million employes, will occupy a floor of offices at 1201 New York Ave. NW beginning Feb. 1.

The move will bring together about 70 employes of the association, which already had a lobbying division here. About 20 employes will move from New York.

Having the group's headquarters in Washington, where hundreds of national associations are located, will "increase our visibility," said Donald E. Jankura, president of the association and senior vice president of Associated Inns & Restaurants Co. of America.

The change will also place the association in the same city as a number of other travel and tourism groups, he said.

Sovran Financial Corp. of Richmond recently purchased Commerce Union Corp. and Dresser Leasing Corp. in a move to increase its market share in the Southeast.

Commerce Union is a $1.4 billion bank holding company based in Norfolk. Sovran bought the bank in a stock swap worth $505 million. Commerce Union will operate under the name Sovran Financial Corp./Central South.

Sovran bought Dresser, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., for $38 million. Dresser leases fleets of cars and trucks, fork lifts and computers. Most of its customers have revenue of less than $100 million a year. The company will become part of Sovran Leasing Corp., which has offices in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina.

The acquisition of Dresser is "an opportunity to satisfy the increasing leasing needs of our existing customers and to expand into new vital markets," said C.A. Cutchins III, Sovran's chairman.

Life Technologies Inc. of Gaithersburg is undertaking a $4.8 million expansion of its cell biology operations in Grand Island, N.Y.

The cell biology division "makes products, such as serums, that grow cells in laboratories," said John D. Thompson, vice president of Life Technologies.

The project includes renovating part of the existing structure, buying new manufacturing equipment and adding 50,000 square feet of space.

The expansion will "significantly increase" the company's production of cell biology products, according to Frederick Adler, chairman of Life Technologies.

The residential sales division of Shannon & Luchs Realtors has acquired Patten Properties Inc. of Alexandria for an undisclosed amount.

Douglas Patten, former owner of Patten Properties, said he accepted the takeover offer because "Shannon & Luchs provides a family atmosphere with great organization and the strength of a large corporation." Patten will manage the new Shannon & Luchs Alexandria/Bradlee office.

With this acquisition, Shannon & Luchs now has 50 residential sales offices in the Washington metropolitan area, 21 of them in Virginia.

Chesapeake Corp. of Richmond is selling its wholly owned subsidiary, Plainwell Paper Co. Inc., to Simpson Paper Co. of San Francisco as part of a restructuring of the corporation.

Plainwell Paper, which is based in Plainwell, Mich., manufactures coated and uncoated papers for the commercial printing market. Chesapeake purchased Plainwell and Wisconsin Tissue Mills, a producer of high quality tissue products, in 1985 from Philip Morris Cos. Inc..

"We decided to sell Plainwell in order to focus our resources on our principal lines of business -- kraft products, tissue products, containers and treated wood products," said J. Carter Fox, Chesapeake's president.

Chesapeake expects the proceeds from the sale to reduce its outstanding debt by more than $30 million. Under its restructuring program, the company has sold other operations in recent months and closed a plywood plant and sawmill.

"As a result of this restructuring, assets of more than $55 million will be redeployed, and employment will be reduced by more than 20 percent," Fox said.

US Sprint's Reston office is the new headquarters for the long-distance telecommunications company's recently formed eastern business marketing group, responsible for 22 states and the District.

The new marketing group is one of three new groups that will take over staff functions formerly performed by the company's seven divisions. The other groups have headquarters in Dallas and Burlingame, Calif.

Gabriel A. Battista, former president of Sprint's Atlantic division, will lead the eastern group. He will be responsible for expanding Sprint's market share among medium to large businesses in an area that extends from Maine to Florida and west to Louisiana and Kentucky.

The International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat), based in Washington, has decommissioned the last Intelsat IV communications satellite still in operation.

The first Intelsat IV satellite was launched in January 1971, and eight more were launched over the next four years. Each satellite was designed to last seven years and carry at least 4,000 voice circuits and two television channels. The recently decommissioned Intelsat satellite had been in service for 12 years.

The Intelsat IV satellites have been replaced over the years by more advanced communications satellites.

Connie Lee is joining the ranks of Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and Sallie Mae. Connie Lee stands for the College Construction Loan Insurance Association.

The recently formed Washington-based corporation is dedicated to providing credit enhancement, insurance and reinsurance to college facilities financings. By providing credit, Connie Lee hopes to lower the cost of financing college plant and equipment purchases by protecting private lenders and investors in case of default.

"This is quite an effort, and we are still in the formative stages," said Oliver R. Sockwell, president of Connie Lee. "We are in the process of developing business and capitalization plans, but at the moment, we are not prepared to publicize our business plans."

Like Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac), the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae), the new organization offers federally backed loan insurance. Connie Lee began life as part of Sallie Mae before being spun off.

Compiled by M.B. Christie.