$84M in Financing in Place for Fort Lauderdale Hotel Transformation

Plans for the conversion of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.’s Sheraton Yankee Trader Hotel into the 433-room Westin Beach Resort (pictured) have gotten a big boost with the closing of an $84 million financing deal for the project. Borrower A1A Trader L.L.C., an affiliate of Starwood Capital Group, was able to obtain a senior secured increasing term loan from ING Real Estate Finance, which took on the roles of Administrative Agent and Sole Lead Arranger on the transaction. After having occupied the oceanfront site at 321 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. for 44 years, the Sheraton Yankee closed its doors in April to pave the way for its re-flagging and rebirth. The comprehensive renovation will yield a new fitness center and spa, and will leave the property with a total of 32,000 square feet of meeting and event space. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. will continue to manage the full-service hotel. Some Fort Lauderdale hospitality market fundamentals have been on the downswing for the last couple of years; the occupancy rate at full-service properties declined from 70.6 percent in 2005 to 68.2 percent in 2007, and the figure is on target to decrease even further to 64.5 percent in 2008, according to a recent report by Torto Wheaton Research. However, the tide is expected to turn next year. The anticipated occupancy rate for Fort Lauderdale full-service hotels is forecasted to grow from 65.1 percent in 2009 to 70.2 percent in 2013. Headquartered in Greenwich, Conn., Starwood Capital is a private investment management firm specializing in global real estate investments on behalf of private and institutional investor partners. Over the last 17 years, the company has completed more than 300 transactions valued at an aggregate $20 billion. New York City-based ING Real Estate, a division of Dutch global financial concern ING Group, is an integrated real estate firm that engages in the development, financing and investment management of premier real estate. The company’s portfolio is valued at over $145 billion.