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DALLAS-American Property Hospitality Management has acquired a second North Dallas hotel for a re-branding play, with its latest move promising to raise the Le Meridien flag once again in the city. The acquisition and upscale move for the 258-key Hilton Suites will cost roughly $52 million.

The San Diego-based American Property plans to immediately start an $8.5-million renovation to take the 11-story hotel at 13402 Noel Rd. to a 4.5-star status, Michael D. Armstrong, president and principal of Neptune Hospitality Advisors Inc., tells GlobeSt.com. He says the up-branding will take 10 to 12 months to complete.

The new owner, a subsidiary of American Property Management Corp., acquired the hotel from Galleria Hotel Venture LP of Little Rock AR, leveraging the deal with a $39-million loan arranged by the San Diego-headquartered Neptune. Armstrong says the senior financing from Countrywide Commercial Real Estate Finance Inc. of Calabasas, CA is a 75% loan-to-value package bearing a three-year term with interest-only payments based on the 30-day Libor.

“It’s an interesting repositioning,” Armstrong says, adding the return of the Le Meridien flag to Dallas was made possible by White Plains, NY-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Inc.’s November 2005 acquisition of the international brand. The Le Meridien flag was lowered roughly three years ago in a contract dispute with LaSalle Hotel Properties over the Plaza of the Americas at 600 N. Pearl St. in the Dallas CBD.

If Le Meridien was going to return, the Galleria was the most likely candidate. In the past year, all Galleria-area properties have been in the limelight as developers of all types grab land and buildings. Le Meridien’s owner Starwood has jumped into the action with a $20-million overhaul of the 487-key Westin, situated inside the Galleria and sporting the priciest rooms in the neighborhood.

“It will really add a superior element of hotel operations there with the Westin and Le Meridien,” says Mitchell Vexler, president of Mockingbird Properties, who’s planning a condo tower on a former hotel lot for the Galleria. “You really couldn’t ask for a better pairing of hotels. There’s a lot of money and a lot of people paying attention to the area. It proves everything that I’ve been saying. This area is stronger than the Downtown.”

As it sets out to retool the three-year-old Hilton Suites, American Property is off and running on a makeover of the Wyndham North Dallas at 4801 LBJ Freeway into a Sheraton. When the dust settles on the re-branding, the owner will have $22.4 million invested into the acquisition and renovation of the 310-key hotel.

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