|By Paul Fallon, Charleston Daily Mail,
W.Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 01, 2011--CHARLESTON, W.Va.--The Marriott Town Center in downtown Charleston will receive a multi-million dollar facelift in the coming months, thanks to a new owner.
Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises Inc. sold the prominent Charleston hotel to Inland American Lodging Inc., an affiliate of Oak Brook, Ill.-based Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. for $25.5 million, according to a press release from the company.
Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. owns hotel, industrial, retail and office properties in 47 states around the country, according to the company's website.
Company officials plan to invest more than $8 million in renovations to the hotel, which was built about 28 years ago, said Philip Wade, senior vice president of investments for Inland American Lodging Advisor Inc., an affiliate of the company.
"We have exciting plans to renovate the building, including a complete room and lobby refresh that will be completed over the next 12 to 18 months," Wade said in a written release.
The company took immediate ownership of the building after the closing on Friday, Wade said.
"We are excited about the purchase and realize the hotel is an important asset to the city of Charleston and one of the finest urban hotels for business and social functions in the state of West Virginia," he said.
"We look forward to establishing a long-term relationship with the city and community leadership."
The Marriott will continue to manage the property under a long-term management agreement, and no staffing changes will occur, Wade said.
Charleston Mayor Danny Jones called the sale a "plus for the city." He said he was excited to hear about plans for renovations and believes the upgraded facility could help draw more people to the city.
"The hotel is about 28 years old so I think it's time," Jones said. "It can only help them."
Jones said he thought Forest City did a good job of operating the hotel, but Inland American has much more experience in the hospitality business.
"They're hotel people," he said.
Inland American owns 56 hotels affiliated with various Marriott brands, including six full-service Marriotts.
Pat Brown, director of the Charleston Urban Renewal Authority, agreed with Jones.
"Forest City did a very good job, but we think Inland American will do an even better job," Brown said.
"I think they'll promote it more and do a great job because that's what Inland American does," he added. "They run hotels."
Brown believes the Marriott Town Center will become a greater asset to the city, especially after the renovations are completed.
Forest City marketed the hotel for sale last fall, Wade said. Inland American participated in a competitive bidding process to obtain the property.
The urban renewal authority owns the property where the Marriott Town Center sits, Brown said. The agency receives about $50,000 annually in rent as well as 0.5 percent of the gross revenue generated from the property, he said.
The lease agreement will not change, Brown said.
Brown was unsure if the agency would receive more revenue because of an increase in occupancy once the renovations are completed.
"We think we might, but it's really hard to predict something like that," he said.
The hotel contains 352 guest rooms and 17,500 square feet of meeting and banquet space.
Contact writer Paul Fallon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4817.
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Copyright (c) 2011, Charleston Daily Mail, W.Va.
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