Gencom, Gemstone Buy Beantown Boutique Hotel
- Dec 23, 2015
Gencom and Gemstone Hotels & Resorts have snapped up a piece of Boston history with the purchase of the Ames Boston Hotel, a 114-room lodging destination housed in a 122-year-old building in downtown Boston’s Government Center.
Location is always key. Jeff McIntyre, principal with Gemstone, told Commercial Property Executive, “The location of this hotel in one of the most active and highly traveled areas of the City creates an opportunity to increase our visibility physically and from a marketing footprint as well.”
Gencom and Gemstone purchased the asset at 1 Court St. from Normandy Real Estate Partners and Contrarian Capital Management. The 14-story building has had its share of owners over the last decade. Before Normandy and its joint venture partners purchased the property in 2007, it had been owned by O’Callaghan Hotel Group, which had acquired it in 2004 from Intercontinental Real Estate Corp.
The Ames is not your average trendy hotel spot; it is steeped in history and it has standing. Originally designed by the architectural firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge in the Byzantine and Romanesque style, the building that houses the hotel originally debuted as a home for Ames Agricultural Tool Co. and took on the title of Boston’s first skyscraper. Additionally, the tower, once known simply as the Ames Building, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and holds the distinction of being the world’s second tallest masonry load bearing wall structure.
It was in 2008, under the ownership of the Normandy joint venture, when the Ames was converted from an office site to a hotel, courtesy of a redevelopment endeavor carrying a price tag of $75 million, including the approximately $17 million acquisition cost. Normandy secured a $46.5 million loan from UBS to finance the adaptive reuse project, which was spearheaded by Tishman Construction Corp. Now, the luxury boutique hotel will undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation at the hands of its new owners, with the goal of transforming it into a leader among Boston’s impressive collection of iconic hotels.
It’s a good time to be a hotel owner in Boston, where, as noted in a mid-year report by real estate investment services firm Marcus & Millichap occupancy, RevPAR and ADR are on the rise. Demand can be attributed to numerous factors, McIntyre said, including, “great pace of citywide conventions; increased tourism, both domestic and international; growth in the business community and therefore, individual business travel; and great sports teams.”
With a revitalized Ames, Gencom and Gemstone plan to hone in on Boston’s thriving business and leisure traveler segments. The partners’ retooling efforts will include an emphasis on the connection of the hotel to its past and the City of Boston; the creation of unique food and beverage experiences and the development of distinctive meeting spaces. The team won’t go it alone on the vision, however. “We will engage the neighborhood and the City through a serious outreach program in 2016,” McIntyre added.
Gencom and Gemstone were hardly alone in the bid to grab the Ames. RobertDouglas, the real estate investment banking firm that advised the sellers, fielded inquiries from a bevy of prospective buyers, both domestic and international.