KEY WEST, FL-Ocean Properties Ltd. has bought the 180-unit Sheraton Suites Key West at 2001 S. Roosevelt Blvd. for just under $35.9 million, or nearly $199,167 a key, from White Plains-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Under a long-term franchise agreement, the asset will remain in Starwood’s portfolio and be managed by the new owner.

Ocean Properties, which has headquarters in Delray Beach and Portsmouth, NH, is a privately held owner and developer of hotels throughout North America. It was founded in 1950 by the Thomas Walsh family, and, according to published reports, owns and/or operates more than 100 properties aggregating approximately 20,000 rooms in the US and Canada. Calls to Ocean Properties and Starwood were not returned by deadline.

The three-story asset, across from Smathers Beach and a mile from Key West International Airport, was built in 1993. Although it suffered significant damage from Hurricane Katrina, it re-opened just days after the storm hit. According to a Starwood website, renovations began on Nov. 9 and are scheduled to continue through the end of this month. In a press release announcing this sale, however, Starwood says the property “will be completely renovated by Ocean Properties.”

Starwood is under agreement to sell a portfolio of 38 properties to Host Marriott Corp. in a deal estimated at more than $4 billion. In early December, it sold the 250-unit Sheraton Hotel at Fort Lauderdale International Airport to HEI Hospitality for about $127,800 a key.

Meanwhile, in mid-September, Ocean Properties won the bid to develop a 400-room Westin-brand hotel in West Palm Beach next to the Palm Beach convention center, according to published reports. The opening is expected to take place in 2008. The company began its Florida portfolio in 1975 with the acquisition of five hotels here. Among the properties it developed is Hilton Key West Resort and Sunset Key Guest Cottages, located on an island off Key West and accessible by a 10-minute boat ride.

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