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AUGUSTA, GA-Stevens Creek Developments has received a $13.6-million construction loan arranged by Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels for its Sheraton Hotel Augusta project. Construction recently began on the 152-room hotel with an opening scheduled in May 2009, according to Sheraton Hotels and Resorts. The lender involved in the transaction was not disclosed.

The hotel is located one mile from Augusta National Golf Club, site of the annual Masters golf tournament. Average room rates in the area run approximately $130 to $180 per night for comparable full-service hotels, though rates during Masters week can easily double that, says Bill Grice, vice president with Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels Financing Group in Atlanta.

“The Augusta MSA has a strong, stable economy, composed of an extensive base of manufacturers, technology-based employers and an expanding service sector,” Grice says. “The diverse industrial base includes production of medical products, pharmaceuticals, golf carts, chemicals, industrial tools and textiles, among others.”

Amenities at the hotel include an indoor swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, dining room with full bar, a large banquet room and business center. The Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau reports that the Richmond County area has a total of approximately 5,000 hotel rooms, which maintain an average annual occupancy of 60% to 65%.

“The project’s sponsor was in need of additional capital sources, outside of their customary banking relationships, and Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels was able to identify multiple lenders that met our client’s needs,” Adam Furth, senior vice president for Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, said in a release. “This transaction demonstrates there is construction debt for quality hotel assets in smaller developing markets. The lending environment has become fairly challenging over the past year, but we continue to have success in arranging for the financing of projects with strong sponsorship and quality franchise affiliations.”

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