BETHESDA, MD-RLJ Lodging Fund II LP, an affiliate of RLJ Development, LLC, has completed the first closing of a $1.7-billion, 100-hotel acquisition announced earlier this year. It has acquired 63 hotels from White Lodging Services Corp. for $1 billion.

A second group of 24 hotels is scheduled to close in mid-July, while the remaining 13 hotels, currently under construction or recently opened, are scheduled to close over the next six to 18 months. WLS will retain management of the hotels under long-term management agreements. The hotels, which consist primarily of Marriott and Hilton brands, will continue to operate under the same affiliations with long-term franchise agreements.

“The WLS acquisition is consistent with our strategy to invest in upscale, focused service hotels with premium brands in desirable markets,” says Thomas Baltimore Jr., president of RLJ. The private real estate investment company is one of the RLJ Cos. controlled by Robert L. Johnson, who is the founder of BET and owner of the NBA Charlotte Bobcats.

Baltimore tells that the transaction will be financed by a CMBS deal led by Wachovia, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Capmark, formerly GMAC Commercial Mortgage. “The total debt was $764 million provided by those five lenders.” The deal will likely go to market within 60 to 90 days.

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