Fortress Lends $58M on BLT Green Hollow’s Purchase of The Bethesdan Hotel

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BLT Green Hollow — a partnership between Building and Land Technology and Green Hollow Capital Partners has landed $57.6 million in acquisition financing for its purchase of The Bethesdan Hotel in Bethesda, Md., Commercial Observer can first report. 

A joint venture between Angelo Gordon and The Bernstein Companies was the seller. 

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Fortress provided the financing, in a transaction arranged by Dustin Stolly and Jordan Roeschlaub, vice chairmen and co-heads of Newmarks New York debt and structured finance group, along with Nick Scribani, Chris Kramer, Dan Morin and Jason Kennedy. Adam Etra, Lawrence Wolfe , Mark Schoenholtz and Miles Spencer, vice chairmen of Newmark’s lodging capital markets team, led the sale of the property and also assisted in negotiating the debt placement.

The 15-story hotel sits at 8120 Wisconsin Avenue and features 270 guest rooms, 1,633 square feet of retail space and three below-grade parking decks. Bethesda Metro station is a short walk from the property, which is also the closest hotel to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) campus and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center — both of which are at the heart of the explosive life sciences investment boom currently underway in the area. 

“We’re what I call micro investors, meaning no matter the market, the story has to make sense to us,” Jim Glasgow, CEO of Green Hollow Capital Partners, said of the pull to the Bethesda market. The area appealed to the partnership for a myriad of reasons, including the fact it’s a home base for a variety of Fortune 500 and private sector companies, and currently a hive of activity for development and job growth. Case in point, Marriott is currently building a brand new 750,000-square-foot headquarters building right down the street, which is going to attract 3,000 employees.

“If you look at Bethesda, it’s almost a 24/7 live workplace type environment,” he said. “There have been several luxury rental properties built in last seven years that are now fully leased, and  more are under construction. So, you’ve got this retail corridor, commercial corridor, and multifamily corridor that are just phenomenal. Outside of the private sector, Walter Reed is right across the street from the hotel, and you now have NIH within walking distance.”

NIH — the largest employer in Montgomery County —recently started construction on a $295 million life sciences property focused on virus research. Its 330-acre campus hosts thousands of employees and visitors each year.

Angelo Gordon and The Bernstein Companies acquired the property roughly four years ago. Formerly a DoubleTree hotel, The Bethesdan underwent a $20 million renovation and was relaunched as a Tapestry Collection by Hilton in October 2019.   “The plan was always to invest in it, and convert it to independent brand under Hilton, which [the previous ownership] did,” Glasgow said. “They invested $20 million in cap-ex and converted it to the Tapestry brand just in time for the pandemic to hit, so they had to close the property and it never ramped.” 

With BLT Green Hollow now taking the reins, Glasgow said the partnership is looking at a longer-term horizon in which to stabilize the hotel.

“We don’t want to do a lot of construction work because of the rising cost of construction costs, commodity prices and inflation,” he said. “In this case, we’re able to buy a property at what I think is a post-pandemic distressed price, with all the work already having been done. We’ve capitalized this for the next five years, so that we can take advantage of the market and ramp the hotel in a reasonable logical period of time so that it stabilizes, post-pandemic, at a level that allows us to generate 20 percent returns.”

In August 2021, Real Estate Weekly announced the formation of BLT Green Hollow, an investment manager focused on special situations that’s led by Carl Kuehner of Building and Land Technology and Glasgow, a former Five Mile Capital portfolio manager. Its founders have a $5 billion equity track record, amassed over the past 25 years, and BLT Green Hollow has more than $1.6 billion of equity capital invested to date today.

“The special situations piece of it relates to the fact that we believe that —and we believed this before the pandemic, the pandemic just accelerated what we thought was inevitable — owners were too aggressive on their acquisitions [pre-pandemic], and that they were going to need rescue capital to recapitalize their assets, because they weren’t going to be able to hit their occupancy or rent growth assumptions,” Glasgow said. ” We think over the next few years, we’re going to have plenty of opportunities like The Bethesdan to look at.”

Officials at Fortress couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. 

Cathy Cunningham can be reached at ccunningham@commercialobserver.com.