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Hotel Build Will Take Teamwork

San Francisco Hotel

We asked Arent Fox partner Rich Brand, a sports and real estate attorney, to give us the game plan for getting more hotels off the ground in S.F. He's moderating Bisnow's first annual Hospitality Summit at the Marines' Memorial Club & Hotel. Above, wearing his gifted carbon copy of the Lakers' 2010 championship ring (it might just fit on Shaq's finger). He moved here from DC one year ago to bump up his real estate and hospitality practice, which requires boots on the ground. (He can do sports deals from anywhere, he says.) He repped the 49ers in their naming rights deal with Levi's.

Among his biggest accomplishments since moving West: Passing the California bar, which entailed studying for the first time in 31 years and pouring over those Barbri books in the corner. Maybe Michael Jordan's signed basketball brought him luck? (He did the deal to bring Michael to the Wizards.) We have one of the highest occupancy rates in the country because it's a great destination—but also because there's not enough product. Barriers of entry concern developers, however, when it comes to getting necessary approvals, zoning, entitlements and financing. 

Hotels take a tremendous amount of manpower, requiring a large staff to go through ups and downs. His playbook for getting a pricey Four Seasons or Ritz off the ground? You need the right lenders, equity, a lot of discipline and a little luck. He's spotting a rise in boutique hotels. That's the focus of Denihan SVP of acquisitions and development Julie Purnell, who's building up her firm's West Coast practice (she's a panelist at Bisnow's Hospitality Summit).