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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Red Lion purchases Baltimore property for 130-room hotel

Spokane-based Red Lion Hotels has purchased a downtown Baltimore building with plans to convert it into a 130-room hotel, marking the first East Coast property in the company’s 50-year history.

The deal underscores the company’s business shift from being a West Coast company to one with hotels spread across the nation’s top markets, company officials say.

The 10-story Baltimore building has been used until now for offices. It will be converted into 130 guest rooms and feature a meeting center and other amenities. It will be called the Hotel RL Baltimore Inner Harbor

In addition to being the first-ever East Coast Red Lion hotel, the purchase marks its first designated “Hotel RL” property.

The RL designation is Red Lion’s attempt to brand some hotels with a decorative flair and affordable chic. Company President and CEO Greg Mount said the RL brand will accent the “spirit of the Pacific Northwest” and is aimed at millennials as a key audience.

Expected to open in summer 2015, the hotel will include a Red Lion-designed lobby coffee bar. Company spokeswoman Pam Scott said the coffee bar will provide a shot of the “Pacific Northwest coffee experience” and will make the hotel lobby more of a town square than just a walk-through area.

Also, all guest rooms will feature soft seating, woodwork surfaces and wood floors.

Known as the Keyser Building, the historic property is within walking distance of several local landmarks, including Camden Yards baseball stadium.

Red Lion will pay $15.7 million for the building and has plans to spend $3.5 million on improvements, a release noted. Red Lion has signed a letter of intent to share ownership of the hotel with Shelbourne Capital, a Pennsylvania real estate equity firm. Other investors are likely to join the partnership, said Scott.

Mount has said Red Lion’s expansion and growth will center on adding locations in the top 80 U.S. metros. Baltimore is considered the 20th largest city in the country with a metro-area population of roughly 2.7 million.

The Baltimore purchase is part of the company’s plan for adaptive re-use, meaning acquiring older buildings and converting them to RL facilities, Scott said.

In this case, Red Lion Senior VP of Corporate Development Angela Landgraf identified the Keyser Building and helped arrange the purchase.