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CAMBRIDGE, MA-A hospitality asset in the same family for decades is trading again for the second time in under two years, as a local group has purchased the Hotel Tria from an affiliate of Cambridge-based Carpenter & Co. Flagged as a Best Western, the 69-unit hotel is in the city’s Alewife area near the border of Belmont. Carpenter & Co. had only owned the Hotel Tria since autumn 2006, reportedly paying $12.5 million for the inn to three sisters whose family had operated the hotel since 1963.

“That deal has closed,” one source tells GlobeSt.com, a notion supported by a mortgage filed on behalf of KW Cambridge Property LLC, a group led by principal Robert J. Karol of Wayland. Karol did not respond to inquiries regarding his group’s purchase, nor did seller Richard L. Friedman, the well-known owner of Carpenter & Co. whose hospitality resume includes the famous Charles Hotel in Harvard Square–1.5 miles from Hotel Tria–plus the Liberty Hotel in Boston, an upscale operation built on the site of the infamous Charles Street Jail. Prior to flipping the Hotel Tria, Carpenter & Co. advanced a plan to add more than 30 rooms at a building next door, a project one source estimates will begin later this year.

Given the potential value of the expansion and lack of a deed on the sale, it is unclear how much was paid for the Hotel Tria by KW Cambridge, but sources insist that Karol has assumed control of the facility, and is said to be hiring a new general manager, although that could not be confirmed. The contract with Best Western extends to the end of the year, one source tells GlobeSt.com, offering potential for the hotel to be re-branded over the near term.

One broker familiar with the Alewife property describes the hotel as a well-maintained, mid-priced operation poised for growth thanks to the emergence of the area as a diverse business district with a concentration of life sciences, professional services and technology companies. Leisure travel and a draw from local colleges also benefits Hotel Tria, market watchers say, as graduations–such as nearby Harvard University’s–are sending rates approaching $350 per night presently, according to one estimate. The normal range is said to be between $110 and $200 per night, depending on the season.

Although the pace of hotel sales has been slower than in recent years, brokers such as Earle Wason of Wason Associates in Portsmouth, NH, say there is still plenty of equity available for private groups to buy hotels. “The end of 2007 and beginning of 2008 has been very good for us,” says Wason, who is sporting numerous listings throughout New England. The firm in recent months has brokered a hotel deal in central New Hampshire for $13 million, closed on a 150-room Best Western in Mystic, CT; and traded a Comfort Inn in Nashua, NH—coincidentally, a property constructed by Karol and former partner Daniel Wolf.

Wason could not offer any insight into the Hotel Tria sale, but maintains that hotels under $20 million are finding willing investors, especially for quality product. Karol and Wolf had assembled an impressive fiefdom of hotels in New England during their tenure, including two in Vermont, with most of the portfolio ultimately purchased by Hersha Hospitality Trust. The Hotel Tria had been run for most of its existence by the Lingos family, who operated the property until 2004 as the Homestead Motor Inn, when it was switched to a Best Western.

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