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New England firm buys $52.4M Hotel Contessa on River Walk

by Richard WebnerNov 23, 2020
Hotel Contessa is located at 306 W. Market St. Photo by Ben Olivo | Heron

A New England investment firm has purchased the Hotel Contessa luxury River Walk hotel, a show of confidence in San Antonio's hospitality industry as it struggles through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wheelock Street Capital, a private firm with offices in Boston and Greenwich, Conn., bought the 12-story, 265-room hotel at 306 W. Market Street last week, county property records show. The hotel was previously owned by a partnership between Silver Ventures, the developer of the Pearl, and Hixon Properties, another downtown builder.

"It has a pretty irreplaceable location right on the River Walk, in a market that has a significant drive-to-leisure component," said Tim Hodes, Wheelock's director of hotel investments. "We know that the next six to nine to 12 months will be tough for the industry, but there is light at the end of the tunnel with the positive news around the development of a handful of vaccines."

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Hodes declined to share the purchase price. The Bexar Appraisal District assessed the hotel's value at $52.4 million this year.

Wheelock plans to hold onto the hotel for a while, and will start work on a full renovation of its ground-floor restaurant and bar in coming months, Hodes said. The firm is bringing on national hotel operator HEI Hotels & Resorts to manage the property.

In June, the hotel notified the State of Texas that it planned to lay off 84 of its staff members.

"As the market recovers, we will invest and hire and rehire," Hodes said. "I'm not sure I can say anything else beyond that."

Wheelock's acquisition of Hotel Contessa marks its first purchase of a hotel in San Antonio, but the firm has invested in multifamily properties in the area, Hodes said. The firm has been making more and more investments in Texas, attracted by the state's population growth, he said.

The hotel opened in December 2005. Executives from Silver Ventures and Hixon Properties also partnered to build the 473-room Westin Riverwalk, across Navarro Street, which they sold to Fort Worth firm Crescent Real Estate last year, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Richard Webner is a freelance journalist covering Austin and San Antonio, and a former San Antonio Express-News business reporter. Follow him at @RWebner on Twitter

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