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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Aug. 25, 202005:20 AM EST

Omni Jacksonville hotel was under consideration for sale before pandemic

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Selling properties is now part of the chain's recovery plan.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Omni Hotels & Resorts was considering selling its property in Jacksonville as part of a corporate refocus.

The Downtown hotel is among five of the company’s business-travel properties being reviewed for possible sale.

Peter Strebel, president of Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts.

Peter Strebel, president of Dallas-based Omni Hotels & Resorts, said in a news release Aug. 18 the Jacksonville property and the others were considered for possible sale months ago as part of the company’s new strategy. The hotels went on the for-sale list before the economic shutdown put in place in March to control the spread of COVID-19 temporarily sent room occupancy and revenue to historic low levels.

Now, adjusting the inventory by offering some of its assets to a new owner or owners is described as part of Omni’s recovery plan.

“The hospitality industry was impacted immensely by the pandemic and as we emerge from this crisis, we must be forward thinking about our brand strategies and portfolio offerings. Reinvesting capital into the convention center and resort market space allows us to grow our business and play to our strengths,” Strebel said.

In addition to the hotel in Downtown Jacksonville, four hotels in Texas might be sold: Omni Dallas Hotel at Park West, Omni Austin Hotel at Southpark, Omni San Antonio Hotel at the Colonnade and Omni Houston Hotel at Westside.

The Omni Jacksonville hotel has 354 rooms and suites. The hotel closed for about two months when the pandemic struck in March.

The five properties considered for sale are represented by Atlanta-based Hodges Ward Elliott. Its website says it is a “boutique real estate capital markets advisor.”

HWE declines to comment at this point, said spokesman Tom Nolan in an email Aug. 24.

Visit Jacksonville, the destination marketing agency for Jacksonville and the Beaches, also declined to comment until more details are available, said spokeswoman Patty Winters.

“Omni has been a great partner with us throughout the years,” said Daniel Davis, president and CEO of JAX Chamber, on Aug. 24.

“I believe there continues to be demand for hotels and residential Downtown. I look forward to working with the new owners,” Davis said.

Omni has been focused for more than 10 years on building its resort portfolio, the release states.

The brand also has been focused on group/convention center hotels with new-build openings in Fort Worth (2009), Dallas (2011), Nashville (2013), Louisville (2018) and scheduled openings in Boston and Oklahoma City in 2021.

Omni’s corporate media kit features 14 resort destinations, 11 convention destinations, including the new convention properties in Boston and Oklahoma City. and 28 business destinations, including the five properties considered for sale.

Omni built the 354-room hotel that opened in 1987 at 245 Water St. Downtown, on the former site of the Sears Roebuck & Co. store. The property has maintained the brand since – at 33 years, the longest single-brand history among Downtown’s hotels.

The Omni Jacksonville had an extensive top-to-bottom renovation in 2004 to prepare the property for guests who would be staying there for Super Bowl XXIX.

In 2012, the ballroom and meeting rooms, about 15,000 square feet, were updated for the hotel’s 25th anniversary.

The most recent renovation was six years ago, when the lobby, Juliette’s Bistro, JBar lounge, guest rooms and suites were updated.

Property records show that Omni Jacksonville Corp. purchased the hotel for $52.4 million in 2002 from Enterprise Center Hotel Limited Partnership. The property’s assessed tax value proposed for 2020 is $37.2 million, according to the Duval County Property Appraiser.

In 2010, Omni acquired the 404-room Amelia Island Plantation in Nassau County and renamed it Omni Amelia Island Resort.

Omni Hotels & Resorts owns and/or operates 60 luxury hotels and resorts with 24,000 rooms in business and leisure destinations across North America. It is the official hotel of the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions.

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