|By Dash Coleman, Savannah Morning News,
Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 02, 2013--Savannah's Mulberry Inn has been sold, said managing partner and former co-owner Mark Smith on Tuesday. The 145-room property at 601 E. Bay St. was purchased Monday by San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group LLC for an amount undisclosed at press time.
The inn, long a fixture in downtown Savannah, was built in 1982 on a site that housed a livery stable and a cotton warehouse in the 1800s, then later a Coca-Cola bottling plant.
The site was developed into a hotel in 1982, but after bankruptcy, it was bought at auction by Smith and two others in 1992 and later renovated and franchised as a Holiday Inn.
"A periodic review of our assets led us to conclude several years ago that the highest and best use of the Mulberry Inn was as an upscale boutique hotel," Smith said. "We believe we have concluded a transaction with the preeminent boutique hotel company in the United States."
Kimpton operates more than 50 hotels and more than 50 restaurants across the country, according to the company's website. The Mulberry Inn will be the only property the company owns in Georgia, according to its website.
Prince-Bush-Smith Hotels, of which Smith is a member, also owns the Hampton Inn at 201 E. Bay St. and the Holiday Inn Express at 199 E. Bay St. Smith said the group will continue to manage the Mulberry Inn and its 45 employees for the next eight months or so while renovation plans are completed.
"I would like to thank all of our employees, customers and vendors that have made this a highly successful investment for the last 20 years," Smith said, giving additional thanks to Senior Vice President Mark Dana and General Manager Wendy McBride.
Over the years, the Mulberry Inn has served as the location for many political events. Notable political figures who have held fundraisers at the Mulberry include Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, former Gov. Sonny Perdue, former New York City mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani and many local public officials.
Smith on Tuesday declined to disclose how much Kimpton paid for the Mulberry Inn in a deal brokered by South Carolina-based Moeckel & Co., and he said he was not at liberty to discuss Kimpton's plans for the property. Calls and emails to Kimpton's public relations department were not returned by press time.
Smith said he was excited for the inn's future.
"It's a bittersweet moment," Smith said. "But it's the right thing to do to allow the property to reach its full potential."
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