|By Alex Jackson, The Capital, Annapolis,
Md.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 27, 2012--Now that two restaurants at Park Place Annapolis have failed, there won't be a third.
The new owners of the Westin Annapolis plan to convert 8,321 square feet, the former location of Morton's steakhouse and the Annapolis Grill, into meeting space. Estimates on the cost of renovation, scheduled to be completed by April, were not revealed.
Crow Holdings Capital Partners LLC, of Dallas, also plans to renovate the Westin's 225 guest rooms starting in mid-April. In September Crow Holdings acquired the Westin for an undisclosed amount from The Carlyle Group, which had owned the hotel since it opened in 2007.
Diane Parmerlee, director of Crow Holdings' hotel group, said the firm liked the property, given its location near state government offices and the Naval Academy.
"We think it's a good market and a high-quality asset," Parmerlee said.
The Westin's lobby, Azure restaurant and lounge, and current ballroom will receive new wall coverings, carpeting, drapery, sofas and side tables. All guest rooms and suites will get new wall covering, carpeting and drapery.
The renovation will step up the competition between the Westin and Loews Annapolis Hotel as a meeting space option in downtown Annapolis. The Westin currently has more than 13,750 square feet for meetings; Loews has more than 18,000 square feet.
Connie Del Signore, president of the the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau, said she was excited about the coming changes.
The Visitors Bureau fills hotel rooms by booking meetings. Del Signore said the new meeting space will be alluring to planners because the space is contiguous to the hotel.
"That's a brilliant move," Del Signore said.
Parmerlee said Davidson Hotels & Resorts, which has managed the Westin since its opening, will continue to manage the hotel. Davidson manages several other Crow Holdings-owned hotels.
As of June, Crow real estate funds had acquired or developed 7,500 hotel rooms. But in its latest investment fund, hotels account for just 6 percent of the firm's made.
The purchase of the Westin wasCrow Holdings' first foray in Annapolis, Parmerlee said. But the Trammell Crow family, for which Crow Holdings handles investments, has had projects in Anne Arundel County.
Trammell Crow Co., an independently operated subsidiary of CB Richard Ellis Group Inc., is the development giant attached to a planned 1.7-million-square-foot business park and golf course on the grounds of Fort George G. Meade.
An agreement between Trammell Crow and Fort Meade on that project has yet to be announced. Representatives of the company and the Army post couldn't be reached to comment on the project's status prior to press time.
Crow Holdings has a history of acquiring or developing hotels near major Trammell Crow developments.
In January 2011, Crow Holdings paid $121 million for the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, a 496-room hotel in Alexandria, Va. Just 15 minutes away, Trammell Crow is working on its planned 1.3 million-square-foot Sentinel Square office development in Washington, D.C.
Crow Holdings also owns the Hilton Anatole in its hometown, Dallas. Once known as the Loews Anatole, the hotel was built by Trammell Crow in the late 1970s as part of its Dallas Market Center development.
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