Wednesday, February 23, 2011

THE FORECASTER

Sale of Eastland Park Hotel in Portland is imminent

By Kate Bucklin

Feb 23, 2011 7:00 am

http://www.theforecaster.net/content/p-eastlandsale-022311

PORTLAND — A Columbus, Ohio-based investment company plans to buy the Eastland Park Hotel by the end of this month.

RockBridge Capital, a partner in RB Portland LLC, has the 241-room hotel under contract from the current owner, Portland Hotel Associates. RockBridge is expected to make a significant investment in the 85-year-old High Street landmark.

Bob Indeglia, president of Magna Hospitality Group – a partner in Portland Hotel Associates – confirmed the pending sale this week, but said confidentiality restrictions prevented him from disclosing any details.

Portland Hotel Associates has owned the Eastland since 2000, when the property was acquired through auction. The group has renovated the two-building hotel in the last few years and placed the property up for sale last fall.

RockBridge has invested more than $3 billion in 300 "assets" across the country since 1992, according to the firm's website. It partners with hotel operators and well-known hospitality chains, including Hyatt, Sheraton, Marriott and Hampton Inn.

No one at the company could be reached early this week for comment, but city officials said its investment into the Arts District hotel is an exciting prospect.

City Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell said RockBridge is doing due diligence now, and has been in contact with the city about the sale.

Mitchell referred further questions, including whether the Eastland would be rebranded as part of a national chain, to RockBridge. He said that when a large property such as the Eastland changes hands, it generally brings about new investment.

City Councilor David Marshall said the most important thing to him is that investors have the capital to improve the building. In a city that prides itself on independent businesses – especially in the Arts District – Marshall said he had not yet heard any backlash about the hotel becoming a chain property, but guessed he would.

"My hope is that substantial investment goes along with new ownership," he said.

Portland Downtown District Executive Director Jan Beitzer said she hopes the new owner will continue to renovate the Eastland. She pointed out that Magna Hospitality's projects included rejuvenating the Top of the East lounge.

"That's a very well-known bar," she said. "It offers spectacular views of the city."

Beitzer said the Eastland, downtown's second largest conference space, brings people into the city year round, not just during the summer.

RockBridge applied for state food and beverage permits on Feb. 3.

According to a food establishment application submitted to the city by Kenneth Krebs, RockBridge executive vice president and general counsel, RB Portland plans to acquire the hotel and continue normal operations.

The document says the purchase agreement for the property has a closing date of no later than Feb. 28.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net

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