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BRANCHBURG, NJ-LodgeWorks is repositioning and up-branding the 139-room Sierra Suites here, converting the property to its upscale Hotel Sierra concept, and the Wichita, KS-based company has an investment partner in the project. RockBridge Capital of Columbus, OH has closed a $17.3-million first mortgage investment in the property, according to the company’s managing director, James Merkel.

“RockBridge and LodgeWorks share a long history in the hospitality industry,” Merkel says, noting first mortgage and mezzanine financing totaling more than $17 million for nine LodgeWorks properties. “The Hotel Sierra concept is an exciting evolution of the brand, and we’re confident that LodgeWorks will create significant value with the conversion. We look forward to pursuing more opportunities together in the future.”

LodgeWorks, headed by Rolf Ruhfus and Tony Isaac, is an eight-year-old company with a portfolio of 25 hotels operating under various flags. Among them, besides Sierra, are Residence Inn and Hyatt Summerfield Suites, which the company co-originated.

The soon-to-be Hotel Sierra opened four years ago at 3141 Route 22 E. in Somerset County near I-287 and I-78. Major corporate demand generators in the market include Merck, Sanofi-Aventis, Pfizer, Chubb, Johnson & Johnson, Ortho Biotech, Verizon and Ethicon. It’s one of three LodgeWorks properties in New Jersey–the others are the Hotel Sierra in Parsippany and Hyatt Summerfield Suites in Bridgewater.

RockBridge provides capital to the hospitality industry through its RockBridge Hospitality Funds and First Mortgage Investment Program. Further details of its first mortgage investment here were not released.

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