By Kevin Collison
New York-based hotel giant Loews has increased its investment stake to become majority owner of the planned 800-room downtown convention hotel and preliminary construction is expected to begin soon.
The expanded role of Loews, which owns and operates 24 hotels in major cities across the U.S. and Canada, was approved this week at a meeting of the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority.
“It’s a great step forward to have Loews as a partner in this project,” attorney Mike Burke, told the LCRA board. “They’ll be a top-flight operator and owner.
“Loews has $5 billion in cash and they’re looking for appropriate investments. They bring deep pockets.”
Loews financial involvement in the $300 million-plus project was first announced last June. It replaced Hyatt, which only had planned to operate the hotel. At the time, the Loews equity investment was described as “substantial.”
And while no dollar amount was provided to the LCRA, Roxsen Koch, the attorney representing the new hotel ownership group, KC Hotel Property Owner LLC, told the LCRA board that Loews would be the majority owner.
A spokeswoman for Loews said the project remains “on track.”
“We anticipate additional announcements by year end once our design and construction teams wrap up the pre-development work,” Sarah Murov, vice president of public relations, said in a statement.
The other partners in the KC Hotel Property Owner LLC are Steve Rattner of New York and Timothy O’Byrne of Denver.
“This is a joint venture with a large corporation with deep pockets to help move the project forward,” Koch said.
The LCRA approved transferring the development rights from the previous group, KC Hotel Developers LLC, to the new entity controlled by Loews. The development agency already has approved an agreement to issue up to $200 million in revenue bonds to help finance the project.
Preliminary work at the three-acre development site bound by Wyandotte, Baltimore, 16th Street and Truman Road is expected to begin soon. That is several weeks after the early October groundbreaking announced last summer, but the project is still expected to be completed by late 2019 or early 2020.
Burke, who has been the public face of the convention hotel project for more than five years, said his role will diminish once the deal closes, which is expected by year’s end. He is not an investor in the hotel project.
“I fade away,” he told the LCRA board. “I’ll have a folding chair and cooler across the street to watch the project going up.”