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LYNDHURST, NJ-The Novotel Hotel, primarily a European brand with little national name recognition in the US, has struggled against its competition in the Northern New Jersey market. But that figures to change now that the property has been sold and will soon fly the flag of Courtyard by Marriott. The buyer is Boycon, LLC, a 50-50 joint venture between Boykin Hotel Properties and Concord Lodging Investment Partners.

The $17.25-million financing package for the acquisition was arranged by RockBridge Capital, Inc. of Columbus, OH. At the closing of the loan, which represents an estimated 70% of the total acquisition and renovation costs, RockBridge sold a senior participation ($15.525 million) to Nationwide Life Insurance Co. The company retained the other 10% in a first loss position in the RockBridge Real Estate Fund.

The loan carries a three-year term, with pricing floating at 345 basis points over the 30-day LIBOR. Amortization is interest-only in the first year, and carries a 25-year amortization after that. RockBridge will continue to service and asset-manage the whole loan through maturity.

“Boykin and Concord are two of the top hotel companies in the business,” according to RockBridge president Ronald Callentine. “This deal embodies all of the characteristics we look for in a deal–a strong sponsor, a strong location and a strong brand.”

The brand will strenghten when the new owners complete a $6.5-million renovation that will turn the property into a 227-room, full-service Courtyard by Marriott. The project is expected to get underway immediately and is slated for completion by next April. “We believe the renovation and conversion will enable the property to better capitalize on the existing strong market demand,” according to Callentine.

RockBridge Capital currently provides funding to the real estate industry through the RockBridge Real Estate Fund. The latter is the fifth closed-end real estate fund originated by the principals of RockBridge. The firm, founded in 1993, seeks value-added investment opportunities in a variety of project types, according to Callender, including hotels, commercial office buildings, industrial facilities and senior housing communities.

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