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Investors Hot on Hotels

Investors Hot on Hotels
Multifamily might be the darling for now, but that doesn't mean that investors and developers are ignoring hotels (the CRE business is not for the monogomous investor)—and even hotels in the Midwest, as two recent deals involving hospitality properties in Chicago and elsewhere show.
MileNorth Hotel
In December, Lowe Enterprises Investors (LEI) bought the 237-room Embassy Suites Chicago-North Shore/Deerfield and more recently demonstrated its appetite for Chicago-area hotels by buying the 213-room Affinia Chicago Hotel in Streeterville and reflagging it posthaste to MileNorth (rooftop view pictured). "We liked the pricing, which was very attractive at less than 50% of replacement cost," LEI co-CEO Bleecker Seaman told us, adding that the company's not through (cause it's on a roll) seeking similar opportunities in Chicago, where it can take advantage of the hotel market recovery and "apply an active management strategy."
Former Post Office, Omaha
At the beginning of May, Rosemont-based First Hospitality Group began work on its latest adaptive reuse project, also involving a hospitality property—the conversion of the former Federal Building in Omaha into a 152-room Residence Inn by Marriott. The $23M project will transform the vacant Art Deco-style building into an extended-stay hotel. (Which is good news for everyone except people who like to go into vacant government buildings hunting for ghosts.)
Robert Habeeb
Adaptive reuse projects like this maintain the important historic fabric of a building’s architecture while reenergizing the building with new offerings, First Hospitality president Robert Habeeb tells us. "That ensures these landmarks will be preserved for generations into the 21st century and beyond,”—while generating a nice return in the here and now. Empty federal buildings, however aesthetic, tend to contribute nothing to the economic well-being of a locality, either through job creation or tax revenue. Well-placed, active hotels are another matter.
Reznick (Investor) MCHI