The corporate owners of the Charleston Place hotel are exploring interest in the possible sale of the landmark complex in downtown Charleston.
“We can confirm that as part of the company’s long-term strategy, Belmond has appointed CBRE Hotels Institutional Group to explore market interest for the possible sale of Charleston Place, A Belmond Hotel, Charleston,” according to a statement by Nicolas Streff, global brand and corporate communications director for Belmond.
Sources tell City Paper that Belmond and its parent company reportedly have multiple offers to buy the hotel that takes up an entire city block in the heart of historic Charleston.
The figure floated for the 434-room hotel, retail and conference complex: $500 million.
“This thing is being marketed internationally,” said a source in the hotel industry. “It is likely to bring a price tag in excess of $1.2M per room.”
French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton acquired Belmond’s worldwide portfolio of high-end hotels and resorts in 2019 for $3.2 billion.
Industry sources say the hotel’s value is tied to its location south of Calhoun Street, its large meeting space and a parking lot that makes money.
The ownership is thought to be trying to create a bidding frenzy among qualified potential buyers.
Sources say the company marketed the property quietly to 50 different investors around the world, hoping to get more than a dozen letters of intent.
“I think it’s close to getting a final call for offers,” the industry source said.
LVMH is the owner of luxury brands like Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Moët & Chandon and others. Its chief executive, Bernard Arnault, is currently the world’s richest person, with a reported net worth of nearly $200 billion.
The Charleston Place first opened as a hotel operated by The Omni in 1986. At the time, it was the product of controversial maneuvering by a young mayor, Joe Riley, to acquire and redevelop the land. Now, it’s seen as as a critical piece of downtown revitalization in the first decade Riley’s 40-year tenure.
The transformation of Charleston Place into a commercial success was the linchpin of billions of dollars of investment that transform the King Street area.
“There really wasn’t anything there. It’s hard to imagine that,” said Frank Hefner, an economist at College of Charleston.
“For downtown Charleston, it was a new high-end hotel. We didn’t have all of these national chains around the peninsula at the time. And conference facilities are unusual,” Hefner said. “It really tipped the balance to push economic development further up the road toward Marion Square.”
Andy Brack and Sam Spence contributed to this report.