BLVD Hospitality JV Buys Iconic Santa Monica Hotel

Hodges Ward Elliott arranged the partnership’s acquisition of The Georgian, a historic 84-key property overlooking the Santa Monica Pier.
The Georgian. Image courtesy of BLVD Hospitality

The Georgian, the famed, turquoise-colored hotel overlooking the pier in Santa Monica, Calif., has come under new ownership for the first time since 1991. With the assistance of Hodges Ward Elliott, a joint venture of BLVD Hospitality, Global Mutual and ESI Ventures acquired the historic 84-key property from 4DS LP for an undisclosed amount.

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The Georgian first opened its doors at 1415 Ocean Ave. in 1933 and has welcomed a long parade of famous guests in the decades since. The eight-story hotel, designed by architect Eugene Durfee in the Romanesque Revival and Art Deco styles, was the site of a Prohibition-era basement speakeasy and operated as an upscale apartment community in the late 1960s, before returning to its status as an iconic lodging destination. Today, the hotel is also home to the popular Veranda Restaurant, as well as roughly 1,100 square feet of meeting and event space.

The new ownership relied on HWE’s Tony Malk, Brett Katz, Diana Simpson and Jordan Kirkbride for representation in the off-market transaction. Along with its partners, BLVD, which has a strong record in historic renovations and adaptive reuse projects, plans to restore the hotel to its original splendor. According to a second quarter 2020 report by Lodging Econometrics, “Many hotel owners who have capital on hand are taking this opportunity of decreased demand to upgrade and renovate their hotels.”

Sales slump

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the hotel industry and consequently, hotel investment sales activity. “In response to plummeting revenues and increased uncertainty, hotel trading came to an abrupt halt in the second quarter, with year-over-year activity down 98 percent in April,” according to a report by CBRE Econometric Advisors. “The additional risk of hotel investment demands compensation for the prospective hotel buyer, and this has driven a wedge between bid and ask prices.”

The pandemic’s continued impact on hotel transaction volume is evident in the short list of deals and transaction closings that have transpired thus far during the third quarter. Of particular note, the Budccini/Pollin Group purchased the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore for $80 million in July, taking the property off the hands of Sunstone Hotel Investors Inc., which had added the asset to its portfolio for approximately $157 million in 2005.