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Investment Firm Building Hotel, Hospitality Training Program At Atlanta HBCU

Atlanta Hotel

CGI Merchant Group will invest $30M to convert existing facilities at Morris Brown College in Atlanta into a 150-key hotel and hospitality management training complex, the minority-owned investment management firm announced Monday.

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Morris Brown College, with Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the background.

Upon completion, Morris Brown will become the only one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities with both a flagged hotel and a hospitality management training program on its campus, CGI said in the announcement.

Construction on the 90K SF facility is expected to begin later this year. The hotel will join the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, and Hilton will serve in an advisory capacity for Morris Brown’s hospitality management program.

The 150-key property will feature two food and beverage outlets, an outdoor terrace and instructional space for the school’s hospitality students. The venture is part of CGI's recently launched $650M Hospitality Opportunity Fund, which seeks to acquire 20 hotels in North America and the Caribbean.

Morris Brown's location in downtown Atlanta will place the campus next to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons NFL team, and State Farm Arena, home to the NBA's Atlanta Hawks. Microsoft Corp. is also planning to build a new Atlanta office campus in nearby Westside Midtown.

Morris Brown was founded by formerly enslaved religious leaders at Big Bethel AME Church in 1881 and is the first college in Georgia to be owned and operated by African Americans. HBCUs including Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University are within a mile radius of its campus.

CGI Senior Managing Director Euclid Walker is an alumnus and board member at Morehouse College.  

After Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson died suddenly last month, Marriott launched an initiative at Howard University, an HBCU in Washington, D.C., to establish the Marriott-Sorenson Center for Hospitality Leadership, backed by a $20M endowment from the Marriott family foundation.