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Lending World Slowing Down On New Hotel Developments

For Atlanta-based Noble Investment Group, it's three hotels and done. At least for this cycle as debt becomes harder to come by.

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Ben Brunt, principal at Noble Investment Group, during a November Bisnow event

That's the message from Noble's Ben Brunt (on right), one of the hotel investor panelists at our Atlanta Hotel Development Forum this morning at the Galleria Mall.

Ben told our audience of more than 100 CRE and hospitality pros that his firm has a slate of three hotel developments, “and then we're kind of done with new development as of now.”

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Rendering of Noble Investment's dual-branded AC Hotels/Moxy by Marriott in Midtown Atlanta

Those projects include the dual-branded AC Hotel by Marriott/Moxy Hotel in Midtown (above); an Autograph Collection by Marriott hotel on the campus of North Carolina State University; and a dual-branded EVEN and Staybridge hotel in Seattle.

The deals are part of Noble's third $270M discretionary fund that invests in select service, extended stay and what Ben calls “compact service” hotels with a transient customer base.

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“I do see the horizon getting a little foggier when it comes to construction financing,” says Paramount Hospitality Management's Nick Lakha. He says banks and other lenders are pulling back from development funds because their “bucket is full,” making debt much more selective on what projects they're focused on.

“If you're out sourcing debt for a suboptimal project, it's just not happening.” In fact, Nick says one of their lenders recently told his firm that after an upcoming development project, they were “out” of construction lending for hospitality for the time being.

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Ben and Nick were part of an investment panel that included First Fidelity Mortgage Corp's Michael Murphy (who moderated), Legacy Ventures' David Marvin and HVMG's Mary Beth Cutshall.

As we previously reported, the hotel development slowdown is affecting more players, including Legacy, which is “tapping the brakes” on its planned $80M, 350-key dual-branded Hilton Worldwide Homewood Suites and Canopy project at 311 Marietta St, in large part because its institutional investor backed off on it.

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Instead, David says Legacy is focused on breaking ground on two unidentified hotels in Metro Atlanta at $40M each, including one in Central Perimeter.

Michael says that slowing hotel growth—even though, in this cycle, demand and supply were in balance—was expected, especially as rates begin to rise.

“At some point obviously the growth slows,” he says. "This is not some kind of genius algorithm that popped up and told [investors] we're at the end of the cycle." 

But David says development won't end—especially once capital flows again.

“Look, it's all about the availability of capital. It's the cocaine of developers,” he quips. "Give us the cocaine and we'll develop."