A name change and a new look is coming to downtown Little Rock's Peabody Hotel as it comes under new management.
The City of Little Rock has approved preliminary paperwork (read letter of agreement attached below) to make the city's largest hotel a Marriott.
Back in June, BG Excelsior Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Peabody Hotel Group, signed an agreement selling the Peabody to an affiliate of Fairwood Capital, LLC, a real estate investment firm focused on hospitality assets.
"The sale and subsequent renovation and rebranding of The Peabody Little Rock will bring millions of dollars to improve the facility as well as complement the ongoing redevelopment efforts being made in downtown Little Rock. This will greatly strengthen the convention and tourism draw of Little Rock throughout our region. We're grateful to the city leadership and staff for their professionalism throughout this process. The improvement of the state's largest convention center hotel is an example of a great private-public partnership that will continue to enhance the city for years to come," Bruce Skidmore, the Peabody's Director of Sales & Marketing told KARK via email.
The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau says the transition could happen as early as the first quarter of 2013.
"We are very excited about the opportunity to re-brand our city's largest hotel; the property improvements along with the name recognition and customer loyalty of the Marriott brand, as well as a national sales force and national reservation system will provide tremendous benefits to the destination," Gretchen Hall, President & CEO of the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau told KARK via email.
Update (June 28, 11:30 a.m.):
BG Excelsior Limited Partnership, an affiliate of Peabody Hotel Group, has signed an agreement with an affiliate of Fairwood Capital, LLC, a real estate investment firm focused on hospitality assets, regarding a potential sale of The Peabody Little Rock. The sale is subject to completion of the buyer's due diligence and various other conditions including approval of the transaction by City of Little Rock officials.
"The Peabody has been honored to be part of the Little Rock community for these past 10 years," said Andrew Groveman, senior vice president of Belz Enterprises, the Memphis-based family-held business that is affiliated with Peabody Hotel Group. "We are delighted to have found a prospective buyer we have known for many years and who plans to invest substantial funds into the hotel, so that it will continue to be a vital part of the Little Rock lodging and tourism scene."
The buyer is exploring several upscale national hotel franchise companies to determine a brand for the hotel. The rebranding of the hotel will require a multi-million dollar investment in comprehensive renovations to the property. Property renovations will likely include all guest rooms and some public spaces, and they are not contingent upon financing. The buyer expects to select a brand for the hotel within the next month.
Update (June 28, 10:45 a.m.)
The Arkansas Times reports progress toward a deal on the Peabody, though no one was ready to say final agreement had been reached. A Memphis-based hotel group is the potential buyer. Sources point to the Fairwood Capital Group, headed by Robert Solmson, which owns the Hampton Inn and Suites on Beale Street. Branding of the property won't be decided for several months. A significant renovation investment is expected, in range of perhaps $15 million. Some of that cost will be pegged to standards of the national hotel chain name under which the hotel will operate, explaining current uncertainty about branding.
Original Story (June 27, 9:30 p.m.):
Sources tell KARK 4 News that Little Rock's Peabody Hotel may soon be up for sale.
We're told there is interest and discussion in the sale of the downtown hotel.
The Peabody is a major anchor for the city's tourism industry.
Peabody Hotels bought the hotel in 1999.
The hotel group also has hotels in Memphis and Orlando.