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The Related Companies launches new hotel venture.

The Related Companies, L.P. in New York has formed a new hotel company to develop, design, construct and own Class A, full-service hotels in major metropolitan markets.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts, through a strategic alliance with the new hotel company, Related Lodging Group, will operate the hotels under its various brands. In addition, Starwood will have an equity interest in the hotels.

As its first project, Related Lodging Group will develop a 531-room Westin Hotel to be situated in Meydenbauer Place, the planned two-million-plus square-foot mixed-use development in Bellevue, Washington expected to break ground within the next 12 months. In addition to the hotel, this project will include an entertainment-enhanced retail component, office building, convention center and parking.

Related Lodging Group is headed by Stephen M. Ross, chairman, who is also chairman of The Related Companies and The Palladium Company; and Kenneth A. Himmel, president and CEO of The Palladium Company, who holds the same titles in the newly formed hotel company. Ronald W. Wackrow, former senior vice president of projects for Sheraton Hotel's North American division and a 30-year veteran of the industry, has joined the Related Lodging Group as executive vice president in charge of design and construction. Martin S. Burger, a senior vice president with Palladium, will be Related Lodging Group's Chief Financial Officer.

The Palladium Company was formed last year by Ross and Himmel to develop, acquire, manage and own a wide variety of entertainment-enhanced retail centers in key urban markets throughout the nation.

"We formed Related Lodging Group at a time when the demand for high-quality hotel accommodations in urban entertainment centers is rapidly accelerating," said Ross, who added that a major benefit of teaming with Starwood will be to access the multiple flags it represents, including St. Regis, Westin, its new W Hotel brand, and a number of Sheraton brands.

According to Barry Sternlicht, chairman of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, "We are pleased to be partners with such a well-respected and reputable development company as Related, and feel confident that this alliance will enable us to expand and grow our various brands. Each Palladium urban project will be important and unique in its marketplace. We expect to leverage our projects and maximize returns on our equity - returns that we believe only a branded company can achieve."

"Nowadays, it's unthinkable to build an entertainment-enhanced retail center, a convention center, performing arts venues, office buildings, a wide range of restaurants and vast public meeting spaces without including full-service hotel accommodations," said Himmel, who during his career has been involved in developing such prestigious urban centers as Boston's Copley Place, Virginia's Reston Town Center, Seattle's Pacific Place, and Chicago's Water Tower Place and 730 North Michigan Avenue.

The 531-room four-star 16-story Westin Hotel will be constructed on the northeast corner of the Meydenbauer Place urban development, a 350,000 square-foot site strategically located in Bellevue's Central Business District, adjacent to the 405 Freeway. Expected to begin construction in mid-1999, Meydenbauer Place will feature an existing convention center of 291,000 square feet which will be expanded, resulting in a 563,000 square-foot facility, including parking, an 18-screen multiplex cinema, several destination restaurants, a total of 300,000 square feet of retail space, a 450,000 square-foot office tower, and a 50,000 square-foot landscaped plaza ideally suited to events and gatherings.

The hotel will include an 11,000 square-foot main ballroom, a 4,000 square-foot junior ballroom, 9,000 square feet of function rooms and boardrooms, and four levels of underground parking with over 2,300 spaces for the entire development. Its elegant lobby will feature a 150-seat, full-service restaurant, a 50-seat lobby lounge and equally large cocktail lounge.

The new Westin Hotel will benefit from and contribute to the vibrancy of the entire mixed-use Meydenbauer Place environment. Given its exceptional amenities and excellent location, it is anticipated the Westin will become a premier place to stay in the Bellevue area, attracting convention, corporate and tourist business.

On May 1st, The Palladium Company held ground-breaking ceremonies for The Palladium at CityPlace in West Palm Beach, FL, the first of its 12 planned entertainment-enhanced retail projects. In addition to Meydenbauer Place, the firm has undertaken pre-development activities and has obtained financing to develop retail complexes in Back Bay, Boston; Birmingham, MI; and New York's Nassau County. The projects will all share similar profiles, incorporating state-of-the-art multiplex stadium seating theaters, sporting and cultural event facilities, art film theaters, a mix of books, music, apparel, and home and lifestyle retailers, destination restaurants, and a first-class hotel facility. Some will also include office buildings and residential units.

Related Lodging Group and Starwood are also currently working on a number of hotel development opportunities, including CityPlace in West Palm Beach.

"The Related Lodging Group's strategic alliance with such a major hotel force as Starwood Hotels & Resorts will ensure the development of premier hospitality properties at the majority of Palladium's entertainment-enhanced retail centers," said Himmel. "We are delighted to be working with such a prestigious magnate in the hotel industry."
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Title Annotation:Related Companies L.P.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 3, 1998
Words:836
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