Downtown-based BLVD Hospitality has purchased the iconic Georgian Hotel on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Global Mutual and ESI Ventures partnered with BLVD Hospitality for the purchase.
The classic turquoise hotel, which features elements of art deco style, sits at 1415 Ocean Ave., near the Santa Monica Pier. It was built in 1933. When the Georgian opened, the hotel and its basement speakeasy hosted guests including Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard.
Hodges Ward Elliott Inc.’s Tony Malk, Brett Katz, Diana Simpson and Jordan Kirkbride worked with BLVD on the acquisitions and capitalization. The property had been owned by the same group since 1991.
Jon Blanchard, the founder and chief executive of BLVD, said he approached the Georgian’s owners about buying the hotel. A short time later, the transaction closed as an off-market deal.
“For me, when you get an opportunity any time in life, Covid or the world’s great, for something that is just irreplaceable, you strike; you pursue it,” Blanchard said.
“I look at Santa Monica as historically one of the best hotel markets in the country,” he added. “It has very limited new supply that comes online. It’s extremely difficult to entitle a new hotel in Santa Monica. It could take 10 years, or it could never happen. When you find an opportunity on Ocean Boulevard in an incredible city like Santa Monica, you’ve got to strike.”
Blanchard added that hotels in beach cities are doing better than in other areas, further making The Georgian a good asset.
He expects to make some changes to the hotel. “(We have) the opportunity to bring some life back into the hotel and bring it back to its heyday by activating the two restaurants and the speakeasy on the lower level … just bringing the design and the history back,” Blanchard said.
Design plans are still being fleshed out, but Blanchard said they would be announced by the end of the year and would have a major focus on public spaces and restoring the hotel’s history.
He said BLVD is interested in other hotel acquisitions as well, especially in coastal and drivable destinations.
BLVD is no stranger to historic properties. Since it was founded, the company has developed nearly $500 million in real estate.
One of its best-known projects is downtown’s Ace Hotel. BLVD converted the former United Artists building and theater into a 183-room hotel. The tower, which was built in 1927 to house the United Artists film studio, was previously known as the California Petroleum Corp. Building and the Texaco Building.
The Ace Hotel, which opened in 2014 at 929 S. Broadway, sold for $117 million last year. Parks Hotels & Resorts Inc., the seller, purchased the Ace as part of an acquisition of Chesapeake Lodging Trust for $2.5 billion.
One of BLVD’s most recent projects is Soho Warehouse in the Arts District. BLVD is the landlord for the building at 1000 S. Santa Fe Ave., which is home to a Soho House location. London-based Soho House is a social club with several outposts in L.A. BLVD is also working on CitizenM, a 315-room hotel downtown.
It’s been an interesting time for the hotel industry as Covid-19 affects travel plans. Still, there have been some sales, most notably the Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, which is expected to close its $100 million sale in September. An auction of the property was canceled, and the unidentified stalking horse bidder will be the new owner.