|By Pat Maio, North County Times,
Escondido, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 05 2010--OCEANSIDE -- Baseball players building a hotel? Well, they do spend a lot of time between games in hotels when traveling from city to city.
Hotel developer Robert Olson, chief executive and president of Irvine-based R.D. Olson Development, has assembled a group of former and current major league baseball players, and other investors, to build a $25 million Courtyard by Marriott in the heart of town.
"Baseball players know a thing or two about hotels," said Olson.
He declined to disclose the names of the ballplayers. Records filed recently with the state's Secretary of State also do not identify them.
The new hotel is to be built in an area sandwiched by the Ocean Ranch business park on one side and the 465-acre El Corazon park on the other, at Oceanside Boulevard and Rancho Del Oro Drive. The business park is home to operations run by biotech giant Genentech and the Titleist Performance Institute, a gym and golf practice center owned by Fortune Brands Inc.'s Acushnet Co., which makes golf equipment under the Titleist and FootJoy names.
Construction just began last week on the Courtyard by Marriott, which is designed for the business traveler looking for a one- or two-night stay.
But the timing?
The San Diego County hotel industry is beginning to show a slow and steady recovery despite several hotels struggling with loads of debt, according to local hospitality industry experts. Veteran hotelier Robert A. Rauch recently said that the recovery is taking shape in the final months of 2010 and will continue to build throughout 2011.
Separately, a recent survey conducted by Irvine-based Atlas Hospitality found that San Diego County's 13 hotels listed in foreclosure in the three-month period ended Sept. 30 was the most reported by any county in California. Atlas President Alan X. Reay said the volume of bad loans far exceeds any that he has ever seen.
Olson sees the industry on the rebound despite industry woes in some luxury and high-end sectors of the local market.
"This is the perfect timing to do building, but it has to do with the economy rebounding," Olson said. "When you overleverage, you expose yourself to potential problems. We are not overleveraged. We find ourselves to be in a good position to be contrarians," he said.
He also said the time is ripe to build, as construction costs are 20 percent to 30 percent below what they were before the Great Recession. "We're seeing that the trend is up in the hotel business," Olson said.
Oceanside Seagate Hotels LLC, a limited liability company formed this fall to build the Courtyard by Marriott, includes several current and retired ballplayers, Olson said. Roughly 70 percent of the group is made up of baseball players, with Olson and others listed as investors. He expects to complete construction on the 140-room hotel in about a year.
This isn't Olson's first foray into Oceanside, or San Diego County. In May 2008, Olson sold two Marriott Residence Inn hotels in Oceanside and Burbank to Apple REIT 8, a real estate investment trust, for $80 million.
Construction on the 125-suite Marriott Residence Inn in Oceanside, at 3603 Ocean Ranch Blvd., was completed the year before. These kinds of hotels are tailored to the extended-stay traveler, usually for five to seven days, and include small kitchens in larger rooms, Olson explained.
Call staff writer Pat Maio at 760-740-3527.
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Copyright (c) 2010, North County Times, Escondido, Calif.
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