Buccini/Pollin, long a dominant real estate presence in Wilmington, has taken its first stride into Philadelphia with a package of acquisitions that includes the Omni Hotel Independence Park in Old City.
The company expects to close Tuesday on its purchase of the Omni at 401 Chestnut St. - which will be rebranded as an upscale Marriott Renaissance - and two hotels in King of Prussia from Valley Forge Investment Corp., Robert Buccini, copresident of Buccini/Pollin, said.
Buccini/Pollin owns property, mostly offices, in Chester, Conshohocken, and other parts of Southeastern Pennsylvania, but until now has not owned anything in Philadelphia itself.
Recent increases in business, residential, and tourist activity prompted the company to enter the city market, Buccini said.
"We feel that now is an opportune time to invest," he said. "Philadelphia is headed in the right direction, and we've got a lot of confidence in Center City."
The company is entering Philadelphia's hospitality market at a time of increasing competition, with eight hotel projects planned or under construction in and around Center City.
This month, the Latham Hotel near Rittenhouse Square was sold for conversion to apartments as its former owners exited the tightening market.
But lodgings in Old City and Society Hill, such as the Omni, should be little affected by the new supply, all of it along Broad Street and farther west, said Peter Tyson, a senior vice president at PKF Consulting/CBRE Hotels.
"What happens up near Broad Street and west of Broad is less impactful on them than most other hotels," he said. "They'll keep an eye on it, but they don't need to keep both eyes on it."
Moreover, Tyson said, the Marriott Renaissance brand will appeal to older travelers with more traditional tastes than the nearby boutique Hotel Monaco at 433 Chestnut St., which will let it avoid some direct competition.
The Omni will come under the Renaissance flag next year, after the new owners have completed renovations of its guest rooms and common areas, Buccini said.
That hotel and the two in King of Prussia - the Crowne Plaza Philadelphia-King of Prussia and the Fairfield Inn Philadelphia Valley Forge/King of Prussia - will be run by Buccini/Pollin's hotel-management affiliate, Pollin/Miller Hospitality Strategies, Buccini said.
Valley Forge Investment Corp. will retain ownership of an Embassy Suites in the area that also will be operated by Pollin/Miller Hospitality.
Buccini/Pollin will soon begin renovations at the Fairfield Inn. An attached LA Fitness facility will be redeveloped, possibly into a retail or medical center, when the health club's lease expires in two years, Buccini said.
He declined to discuss the purchase price for the properties, citing a confidentiality agreement.
Valley Forge Investment president Brian McElwee did not return a call seeking comment.
The hotels are the first Pennsylvania lodgings for Buccini/Pollin, which owns 20 hotels in seven other states. The acquisition places the company's hotels in an unbroken corridor from Virginia to New York.
Acquiring multiple properties enables the company to scale up its statewide presence more efficiently than a single purchase would permit, Buccini said.
"We're excited to be able to fill in the corridor," he said. "We were interested in the portfolio because it allows us to have scale in Pennsylvania."