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ANCHORAGE-Hilton Hotels Corp. has sold the 600-room Anchorage Hilton to Columbia Sussex Corp. of Kentucky for $65 million. Columbia Sussex, which owns 80 hotels nationwide including the Anchorage Marriott Downtown, will keep the Hilton flag under a 20-year franchise agreement and spend another $12 million in capital improvements to the property, according to Hilton.

Hilton did not identify the buyer beyond the name CP Anchorage Hotel 2 LLC and an executive at Columbia Sussex could not be reached Friday morning for confirmation. However, the CP is known to stand for Columbia Properties, which is the name under which Columbia Sussex owns the Marriott property, it’s only other hotel in Anchorage. In addition, local published reports have cited liquor licenses transfer documents that also point to Columbia Sussex.

Seattle-based hotel consultant Michael Mohn of Kennedy, & Mohn tells GlobeSt.com that his understanding is that Hilton bought the property in the middle 1990s for $67 million. The property was listed this summer by the Placentia Group of Tampa, FL, for $70 million.

“My understanding is it had four or five interested parties, most of them from the lower 48 (states) and one group from Alaska,” he says. “It went pretty quick for that size and caliber of an asset in that location.”

Performance of the asset probably declined during Hilton’s ownership and now was the best time to sell, says Mohn. “Underwriting is as aggressive as we’ve ever seen it, so if you’re going to take an asset off the balance sheet, this current environment is probably a good time to do it; when underwriting tightens, it’s worth less.”

As for Columbia Sussex, Mohn says they are now the 800-pound gorilla in the market. Between the two hotels they now about 1,000 rooms in the market, far more than any other competitor, says Mohn.

The company’s 400-room Marriott is the closest hotel to the new convention center. With the Anchorage Hilton in hand, they can block out large chunks of rooms in the Marriott and still have someplace for leisure travelers to go.

“Control of that volume of inventory is significant,” says Mohn. “They know market very well and have found it to be challenging but rewarding.”

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