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MILFORD, MA-A recently renovated Sheraton here is among two Massachusetts inns being acquired by Linchris Hotel Corp. of Hanover, company officials have acknowledged. The rapidly expanding Linchris is under contract to buy the Sheraton Milford and Radisson Hotel Rockland from Dallas-based Ashford Hospitality Trust, which purchased the two properties as part of a 4,100-room portfolio in 2005. They are Ashford’s only Massachusetts holdings.

“We do have them under agreement,” Linchris CEO Christopher Gistis confirms to GlobeSt.com, in estimating a closing late next month. Gistis declined comment on matters related to the deal, such as the price, citing confidentiality clauses and the incompletion of the transaction. Efforts to contact Ashford officials by press deadline were unsuccessful. Market watchers spoken to were unable to estimate a purchase price given the variables of hospitality valuations, but one industry professional estimates the replacement cost for the 314 rooms being traded at a minimum of $100,000 per key. The product is even more valuable, says the observer, given a dearth of full-service hotels in suburban Boston and the unlikelihood of any new ones being developed.

The larger of the two assets targeted by Linchris is the Sheraton Milford at 11 Beaver St. According to Ashford’s website, the property has just undergone a multi-million dollar upgrade of the 177 rooms and common areas, including a Legends Sports Grille Restaurant and 10,000 sf of meeting space. The 137-room Radisson Hotel Rockland at 929 Hingham St. was originally constructed in 1988 and renovated in 2002. Features include residential suites, a grand ballroom and 3,500-sf of meeting space, plus a business center, fitness room and heated pool. “They are really nice facilities,” opines one hotel analyst familiar with both inns.

Linchris presently has more than two dozen hotels under ownership, having made news when the company paid $100 million for an 855-room portfolio in Maine and Massachusetts, as reported by GlobeSt.com. Gitsis says his company is pursuing a growth strategy, even preparing to broaden its traditional focus on the northeast, with opportunities being eyed in the mid-Atlantic states and down into Florida. “We are looking to do something in the near future,” he says, but adds that nothing is further along than the Ashford negotiations.

Although some lenders are becoming more restrictive in doing commercial real estate deals, Gitsis says he is encouraged because those that “make sense” are finding the necessary financing, a notion supported by broker Earle Wason of Wason Associates, who says small and middle-market hotel sales have held up, despite the capital calamity. “Demand is still very good,” says Wason, who last month traded a 104-unit Best Western in Nashua, NH. The Best Western Granite Inn was bought by Karen Enterprises in a sale that even survived a fire damaging nearly half the guest rooms just after signing of the purchase agreement. “We are glad our services could be utilized in such a unique situation and were used to aid two separate hotel companies in a very difficult negotiation process,” says Wason, who has listings throughout New England.

Wason says he is comforted by regional hotel fundamentals to date, despite the national economic woes and skyrocketing gasoline prices. Leisure travel has been aided by Canadian visitors, he says, and commercial properties have heretofore held up well. Gitsis, whose purchase last year included the Brookline Holiday Inn and a Hampton Inn near Logan International Airport, says his hotels have also performed fundamentally solid thus far, even enjoying rate accretion at operations such as the 225-room Brookline asset.

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