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Optima Ventures and Sage Hospitality are pleased to announce that they have partnered to purchase the Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Centre hotel in downtown Cleveland and plan to convert the property into a luxurious 481-room Westin.

The Cleveland International Fund has committed $36 million to help fund renovations at the property.

The hotel will shut down in mid-November to undergo more than $64 million in upgrades, including the complete remodel of all guest rooms, more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space and all public spaces, plus the installation of energy-efficient windows, a new roof and extensive exterior improvements.

The new Westin Cleveland will feature a grand two-story staircase, a signature Sage Restaurant Group concept with outdoor dining space, a business center, a fitness center and a spa.

“This is the perfect time for a four-star luxury hotel to be entering the downtown Cleveland market,” said Ken Geist, Executive Vice President and Partner at Sage Hospitality. “With the opening of the convention center, medical mart and new Horseshoe Casino, we expect to see strong occupancy from both business and leisure travelers. “

Miami-based Optima Ventures and Denver-based Sage have hired Marous Brothers Construction of Willoughby to oversee the renovation of the hotel. The hotel is expected to reopen as a full-service, luxury Westin in July 2013.

Chaim Schochet of Optima Ventures, said: “We think downtown Cleveland has terrific potential and is on the verge of a substantial upswing. This hotel will be perfectly positioned to serve the new businesses and groups coming to experience Cleveland.”

Sage estimates that the hotel will employ between 300 to 350 associates when it reopens.

Schochet said the Cleveland International Fund (CiF) was key to the financing of the project. CiF participates in the federally approved EB-5 program, which permits wealthy foreign investors to expedite obtaining U.S. visas. The foreigners must each invest $500,000 in a project that creates U.S. jobs within an EB-5 zone. The CiF operates an Eb-5 zone in Greater Cleveland.

“This is yet another large-scale example of CiF bringing millions of dollars of foreign investment into Cleveland,” said Eddy Zai, CEO of CiF. “This money not only helps local projects move forward but also creates jobs for Clevelanders.”

Although the building is not eligible for historic tax credits, the restoration of this older building will preserve a significant feature of Cleveland’s downtown skyline.

To complete the financing package, the developers are working with the City of Cleveland and Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority on a tax increment financing agreement and sale of bonds, respectively.

Cleveland City Council is expected to vote soon on a tax increment financing agreement that would mean some future property tax payments would instead be used to help pay off debt. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District will receive more money as the value of the hotel goes up.

Mayor Frank Jackson stated: “We are pleased to participate in this key renovation project which will energize both the East 9th Street district to the east and the Public Auditorium, Convention Center and Medical Mart developments to the west.”

Sage Hospitality is one of the nation’s largest privately held hotel management and ownership companies, operating more than 60 properties in 26 states, ranging from full-service urban luxury hotels to select-service suburban properties. Sage currently manages a broad portfolio of well-known brands such as JW Marriott, Renaissance, Westin, Hilton and Sheraton. Sage has purchased and renovated twenty hotels over the past ten years, including the Blackstone on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, the Renaissance Pittsburgh, the Nines in Portland Oregon and the Renaissance in Providence Rhode Island.

Sage worked closely with the City of Cleveland Department of Economic Development, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Downtown Cleveland Alliance and Cuyahoga County’s Office of Economic Development to solidify this extensive redevelopment project.

Article Courtesy of WOIO 19 Action News

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