Update: Little Rock's Peabody Hotel to be sold

(KATV) The Peabody is being sold and will be rebranded as the Marriott. The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau expects the transition to happen in the early first quarter of 2013.

Preliminary paperwork was approved Tuesday. Davidson Hotels and Resorts ofAtlanta will manage the hotel and intends to invest an estimated $16 million inupgrades and remodeling.

June 28, 2012:

(KATV) The ducks at the Peabody are checking out. Fairwood Capital, an investment firm has signed an agreement to purchase the hotel from the Peabody Hotel Group.

The ducks will be missed, but businesses are excited. President of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau, Grethen Hall says the potential new owners are exploring an upscale national name, to be revealed in about a month. That means bringing in a national sales force and growing tourism.

Overlooking the river and in the heart of downtown Little Rock, the Peabody has 418 rooms, 22 suites and it's the only four star hotel in the state. But the poultry that you'll never find on the menu here has their marching orders.

Monte Hansen is the Peabody General Manager. He says, "Sometimes things just don't work out the way you hope, but I think that if you focus on the positive and the new changes that are going to come it will really help people get through it and it will be an exciting time for Little Rock."

The Peabody hotel came in 10-years ago, did a complete overhaul and made a major investment. Bruce Moore is the city manager. He says they've been a great partner for the city. The city owns the land and gave them a 99-year lease that will now be re-assigned.

Asked, "Will the city be a part of the decision making for which franchise comes in? Moore answers, "We will. Part of the lease says we have to approve which flag goes on the hotel so we will be intricately involved with them over the next few weeks and again we think the discussions are off to a good start."

Twice the size of surrounding hotels, it brings in the most revenue, at a reported $16.1 million dollars, but declined about 3-percent in the latest city tax records.

A national franchise will mean being added to the national reservation system to attract more tourism.

Most of the nearly 300employees are expected to be safe.

Moore concludes, "They didn't have a national reservation system which I think hampered us when we were promoting conventions so this gives us an opportunity to bring in a national chain that has a national reservation system for the business travelers, for the conventions. It is a win win for us."

About Fairwood Capital, LLC was founded in 2008: With offices in Memphis, Tenn. and New York, N.Y., Fairwood Capital, LLC is a real estate investment firm focusing exclusively on the acquisition and recapitalization of hospitality real estate and operating platforms. The company was founded by Robert M. Solmson, former CEO and chairman of publicly held RFS Hotel Investors (RFS), and Richard Reiss, Jr., chairman of Georgica Advisors and a former RFS board member. The company pursues a value-oriented investment strategy that seeks to acquire a portfolio diversified by brand, geographic location and market segment, primarily in premium-branded, select service, extended-stay and full-service hotels.

The Peabody Hotel of Little Rock is being sold.

The announcement was confirmed in a press release Thursday morning.

Fairwood Capital, LLC, a real estate investment firm focused on hospitality assets, will buy the popular hotel. The sale is still pending on a number of factors, including approval 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.