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Noble Investment Group Remodeling the Crowne Plaza
 in Atlanta's Buckhead to a 291 room W Hotel

By Leon Stafford, The Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 5, 2007--W, the boutique hotel brand known for bright interiors and sleek, modern design that appeals to young professionals, is adding another location in Atlanta.

Noble Investment Group, an Atlanta-based private equity firm, is remodeling the Crowne Plaza in Buckhead, a modest, boxy low-rise that sits back almost invisibly on Peachtree Road near Lenox Square.

The $100 million renovation will create a showy W hotel, complete with brightly lit, glass elevators running the length of its front and complemented by a giant signature W -- bathed in a spotlight -- that will act as a visual beacon at the building's summit.

The hotel will open in summer 2008.

"From a luxury perspective, we have a truly prominent address," said Noble Chief Executive Officer Mit Shah, commenting on the hotel's footprint, which is just steps away from Lenox Square. "We're in the center of everything."

The W Buckhead will be the city's fourth hotel under the brand. Starwood Hotels, W's owner, operates a W hotel near Perimeter Mall and is constructing another one on Ivan Allen Boulevard downtown. Noble is converting the Sheraton Colony Square into a W for $96 million.

Mark Woodworth, executive vice president of PKF Consulting Inc., an Atlanta firm that tracks the health of the hotel industry, said the city can handle multiple locations of the brand. Each is serving a distinct market so they won't cannibalize each other, he said.

"I really believe Atlanta as a hospitality market has matured to a point that it can support each of these hotels," he said. "And part of the success of W is the ability to incorporate something from the areas they are located in so they won't all be the same."

The addition of the W Buckhead comes as Atlanta is experiencing an upswing in high-end luxury accommodations. Tony properties like the Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Grand Hyatt and InterContinental hotels will soon by joined by the likes of St. Regis and Rosewood.

The W hotel will have 291 rooms, meeting space and a spa. Future plans include adding about 350,000 square feet of residential and other space next to the building, Shah said.

Thom Filicia, who has earned international fame as a member of Bravo's "Fab Five" on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," will design the interior decor.

The project will include strong lines, a muted palette with splashes of bold color and rich textures and patterns, Filicia's specialties. The grounds will mimic the greenery and design of a Southern home, while the interior will reflect urban cool. A rooftop bar with swooping curves is designed to take advantage of the area's skyline.

"It's a huge coup," Shah said of snagging Filicia for the work. "He actually solicited us."


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