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Interstate Hotels & Resorts to Assume Management of Hilton Pittsburgh, Downtown
as Part of Ownership Change; The Related Group and Stephen Ross
Finalizing Purchase From Shubh Hotels, LLC

By Mark Belko, Pittsburgh Post-GazetteMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Nov. 5, 2009--One of the nation's top hotel management companies will oversee operations at the Hilton Pittsburgh, Downtown, as part of a proposed ownership change.

Interstate Hotels & Resorts will take over operations once the sale of the venerable hotel with its prominent spot at the entrance to the Golden Triangle is completed, perhaps within the next 10 days to two weeks.

A partnership led by Jorge M. Perez, chief executive officer of The Related Group, a Miami-based real estate developer and builder, and Stephen M. Ross, majority owner of the Miami Dolphins football team, are trying to finalize the purchase of the Hilton from Shubh Hotels LLC.

Shubh bought the hotel for $28 million in 2006 but ran into financial trouble after launching a $25 million renovation that included an exterior addition.

The project stopped in May after contractor P.J. Dick walked off the job, saying it was owed $317,273 by Shubh. Unions and other contractors also have filed liens or lawsuits for money owed to them by Florida-based Shubh.

The new ownership group plans to honor all labor contracts at the hotel and keep the Hilton name under a franchise agreement still under negotiation, said Greg Denton, a senior vice president with The Related Group.

While the firms headed by Mr. Perez and Mr. Ross, chief executive officer of Related Companies of New York City, are heavily involved in condominium and apartment developments, there are no plans to convert the Hilton from a hotel, Mr. Denton said.

"It will stay a hotel and it will stay a Hilton," he said.

Mr. Denton said he couldn't predict when the new owners will close on the sale. "We've resolved all of the major issues. We believe we just need to document it and tie up loose ends," he said.

Interstate, which bills itself as the country's largest independent hotel management company, operates 16 Hiltons, including one in Moscow. In Pittsburgh, it runs three hotels, including the Hampton Inn & Suites in the Strip District and the Residence Inn Pittsburgh University/Medical Center in Oakland.

Mark Belko can be reached at mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.

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