AUSTIN-With 15 years invested into the Omni Austin Hotel Downtown, the Irving, TX-based management company has bought the 375-room prize from Walton Street Capital LLC. The new owner plans to plow an additional $10 million into the hotel to update guest rooms.

The asset has been through two ownership changes in the past six months. Originally part of Fort Worth-based Crescent Real Estate Equities Co.’s portfolio, the 20-year-old hotel at 700 San Jacinto Blvd. and its neighbor, the 334,664-sf Austin Centre office building at 701 Brazos St. were sold in May to Chicago-based Walton Street Capital as part of a $620-million portfolio sale.

Scott Johnson, vice president of acquisitions and development for Omni Hotels Corp., tells that Omni’s management of the Downtown hotel since 1992 gave the impression that the company owned it as well. Furthermore, Omni Hotels was eager to claim the asset for its own. “So when the opportunity presented itself to own, we figured it was time to buy,” Johnson says.

The buy gives Omni Hotels 12 assets in Texas. In Austin, the company owns 312-room Omni Hotel at Southpark at 4140 Governor’s Row, about two miles south of the CBD hotel off Interstate 35. Meanwhile, the company is redeveloping a former 700-room Sheridan Hotel at 711 Polk St., also in the CBD, and will shortly begin construction on a 600-room hotel adjacent to the Fort Worth Convention Center at 1201 Houston St.

“Nationwide, we’d like to have another five hotels either acquired or starting development by year’s end, especially in Texas,” Johnson says. “We’re looking for other opportunities, but nothing else is in the pipeline right now.”

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