BETHESDA, MD-LaSalle Hotel Properties is preparing for the retirement of Jon Bortz, its current chairman, CEO and president, two years from now. The company has tapped COO Michael Barnello to take his position in July 2010.

Barnello, who has been with the REIT since it went public 10 years ago, has been named president of LaSalle Hotel Properties effective immediately. Furthermore this July, he is expected to be elected as a trustee with the board of directors. The succession plan also calls for Bortz to continue as chairman of the Board after he leaves his post.

Besides COO, Barnello is also EVP of acquisitions of the company, and he will continue with that role after he assumes the leadership position in 2010. Two months ago, LaSalle Hotel Properties formed a $250-million equity pool with LaSalle Investment Management in Chicago to invest in US hotels. Levering the fund is giving the duo $700 million in purchasing power.

Key investment destinations of the fund will include Boston, New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle–markets in which the REIT typically invests–as well as in other high barrier-to-entry cities like Miami, Denver, Portland and Phoenix. LaSalle Hotel Properties owns 31 upscale and luxury full-service hotels, totaling approximately 8,500-keys in 14 markets.

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