ST. LOUIS-A joint venture between Columbus, OH-based RockBridge Capital, LLC and Memphis-based Davidson Hotel Co. has purchased the 393-room Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel from an affiliate of Marriott International.

The guest rooms and other public areas recently were upgraded in a $4-million renovation program; however property operator Davidson Hotel Co. will oversee an additional $6-million refurbishment under the new ownership. The 12-story hotel, located at 9801 Natural Bridge Rd., includes 32 meeting rooms, a 11,400-sf Grand Concourse Ballroom, and the Renaissance and Penthouse ballrooms located on the hotel’s top floor.

Patrick Lupsha, executive vice president and COO with Davidson, tells that although the company serves as property manager, it is also a sliver equity partner taking anywhere from 1% to 10% interest in JV-acquired properties. Lupsha declined from disclosing the firm’s interest in the St. Louis property, and could not reveal the acquisition price.

This marks the first transaction since Davidson announced plans to double in size by 2010. At the start of June, company execs projected that the 2005 revenue of $280 million would elevate to $400 million in 2006 and more than $650 million by 2010. “We will use several paths to achieve our growth goals, including third-party management contracts, acquisitions, development and continued strong internal growth from our current portfolio,” said John A. Belden, president and CEO, at the time of the announcement.

The company works with seven institutional investors, including opportunity funds, pension funds, life insurance companies and publicly held companies. Belden says when the company’s senior management team and institutional capital partner, Bridgepoint Hospitality, acquired Davidson from industry veteran Chick Hill earlier this year, the company gained a strong sense of its own potential. He says the Davidson currently has an “active pipeline,” and the company’s focus remains on joint-venture and third-party opportunities.

In terms of what the joint venture plans to do with the airport property in the future, Lupsha doesn’t know. “We never know; we don’t set up an exit strategy when we acquire a property,” he says. In four cases this year, Lupsha says his company has stayed on as property manager despite the property selling to a new owner.

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