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September 7, 2012

Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center Changes Hands for $40 M

By Eliza Theiss, Associate Editor

This week marks the closing of a major commercial real estate transaction for the Baton Rouge market and especially its hospitality industry. According to a story by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, Kevin Gallagher, senior vice president of Prism Hotels & Resorts, has announced Prism will be staying on to manage the downtown hotel in a partnership with the buyer, identifying the new owner as RockBridge Capital LLC, of Columbus, OH. The buyer paid $40 million for the property—considerably less than the estimated $70 million it took to revitalize the property by former owner Commercial Properties Realty Trust, the for-profit branch of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF).

According to a May 2012 article by the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report, Commercial Properties Realty Trust began marketing the hotel earlier that month. Initially, Prism seemed to be the likely buyer, as it took over management of the hotel the same month, and had a history with the property, as it was the BRAF’s partner in renovating and reopening the hotel back in 2006. In May the word at Prism was that purchasing the hotel will be considered during a 60-day due diligence period.

The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, located in downtown Baton Rouge, features 290 guest rooms, eight of which are luxury suites. All rooms have complimentary high-speed wireless internet access. The hotel also features an executive floor with a private lounge and concierge, complimentary continental breakfast and evening reception. Hotel amenities include 20,000 square feet of meeting space, including two ballrooms with views of the Mississippi River and downtown Baton Rouge, a business center, full-service spa, a fully equipped fitness center, an outdoor pool and garden deck. Dining options include The Kingfish Grill with its Cajun cuisine and fresh seafood and The Viking Cooking School, the outdoor pavilion restaurant, which also offers cooking classes to interested parties.

The Hilton finished a $70 million renovation in 2006, as the 1927-built property sat empty for several years, starting in 1985. It was even considered for demolition in 1982, but its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places saved it from the wrecking ball. The BRAF got involved with redeveloping the former Heidelberg Hotel and Capitol House in the 1990s. An undisclosed, but large, part of the renovation costs were covered by state and federal historic tax credits and tax increment financing, according to The Advocate. Following the impressive overhaul, the Hilton Capitol received a four-diamond status from the AAA for exceptional hospitality, customer service and physical attributes. The hotel also received the 2012 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award.

Photo credit: Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center’s Google + Profile