Angelos talks to Westin about operating hotel

Hyatt was front-runner to operate property near convention center


March 04, 2000|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

Peter G. Angelos' search for an operator other than Hyatt Hotels Corp. for his proposed 850-room hotel across from the Baltimore Convention Center has resulted in discussions with Westin Hotels & Resorts.

Those talks may jeopardize discussions for Westin to operate a second proposed hotel on the site of the former News American building in the Inner Harbor.

The majority owner of the Orioles has been in talks with Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corp. to brand his proposed $175 million hotel a Grand Hyatt, but has failed to strike a deal.

Yesterday, Hyatt officials said they are still negotiating with Angelos for the 22-story hotel, which would be built on a city-owned parking lot adjacent to Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

"We fully expect it to be a Hyatt hotel," said Lori Armon, a Hyatt spokeswoman.

Angelos did not return calls to his office. Tom Marudas, his associate, declined to comment.

The hotel on the News American site is being developed by Harvey Schulweis, chief executive of Town & Country Trust, a Baltimore apartment complex operator, and Schulweis Realty in New York. The site for the proposed $128.5 million, 600-room hotel is at 300 E. Pratt St.

Almost from the beginning, the Schulweis project has been linked with Westin. Schulweis did not return calls to his New York office yesterday.

Westin officials would not characterize their discussions with Schulweis, but have confirmed that they have spoken with Angelos.

"There is nothing official," said Sue Brush, vice president and Westin brand manager for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., Westin's parent. Starwood also owns the Baltimore Sheraton.

"We're still keenly interested in the market," Brush said. "We've always tried to focus on major urban areas and resort destinations, and Baltimore is a major urban market that has eluded us."

M. J. "Jay" Brodie, the president of the Baltimore Development Corp., is not concerned that Angelos and Schulweis are still wrangling for a brand name, considering how difficult the market is for major downtown hotels.

"The capital market for hotels has never been easy. It's a struggle," said the head of the city's development agency. "It is not atypical in the last several years that a Peter Angelos and a Harvey Schulweis have been wrestling with trying to get projects under construction."

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