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Sept. 22--Jacksonville's largest hotel has been sold for close to $110 million.

A deed filed Thursday with Duval County clerk of courts shows that a corporation in Houston paid $109,965,500 for the 951-room Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel and convention center. The hotel will remain a Hyatt, its general manager said Friday.

"The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront continues to be managed by Hyatt and the recent sale does not affect normal hotel operations," Luis Aloma said in a statement late Friday afternoon.

The address of the buyer is the same as that of Westmont Hospitality Group, which has an ownership interest in more than 500 hotels on three continents. Last year, it bought the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa for $120.5 million.

Westmont did not return the Times-Union's calls or emails.

The Jacksonville Hyatt hotel opened as an Adams Mark in 2001. It was sold for $67 million in 2005 and became a Hyatt. The hotel went into foreclosure and was purchased by Fortress Investment Group of New York in 2014 for $53 million.

At that time, the hotel's manager said it had a longterm contract with Hyatt that would transfer with the sale.

In addition to the 951 guest rooms, the hotel has 30 meeting rooms and a total of 110,000 square feet of function space.

Paul Astleford, president and CEO of Visit Jacksonville, said the hotel is a vital part of the city's convention and meeting business.

"It has been for all practical purposes our convention center," he said, "becuase the Prime Osborn is really just used for consumer shows which are more local shows."

In other words, when associations and companies want to gather for large meetings in Jacksonville, it's usually at the Hyatt, he said.

"The owners have put millions into into it in the last year and half," he said. "They've upgraded all of their rooms, the meeting spaces."

Roger Bull: (904) 359-4296

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