RLJ Development sells four hotels for $215m

The private equity real estate firm run by BET founder Robert L. Johnson has sold four hospitality properties in California less than two years after it acquired them.

The RLJ Urban Lodging Fund, a private equity real estate vehicle focused on hospitality properties, has sold four hotels to Innkeepers USA Trust for $215 million (€168 million).

The four properties are all located in Southern California and include the 192-room Residence Inn San Diego Mission Valley, the 200-room Residence Inn Anaheim/Garden Grove, the 230-room Hilton Suites Anaheim/Orange and the 309-room Hilton Ontario Airport. RLJ purchased all of the hotels less than two years ago.

The RLJ Urban Lodging Fund is managed by RLJ Development, the private equity real estate firm founded in 2000 by Robert L. Johnson, the former owner of Black Entertainment Television. The fund, which closed on $315 million in April 2005, has thus far invested in 23 properties and sold five of them, including the four hotels sold to Innkeepers USA, a hospitality REIT based in Palm Beach, Florida.

In a statement, Thomas J. Baltimore, president of RLJ Development, said the sale of the four hotels generated “significant returns for our investors.”

Last month, RLJ closed its second fund, RLJ Lodging Fund II, on $743 million. Most of the equity in that vehicle will be used to acquire a $1.7-billion, 100-hotel portfolio from White Lodging Services. RLJ has already closed on 87 of those hotels; the remaining 13 acquisitions will be completed over the next 18 months.

In addition to RLJ Development, Johnson also operates a number of other business lines including a hedge fund of funds in partnership with Deutsche Bank, a private equity fund in partnership with The Carlyle Group and two professional basketball teams, the NBA Charlotte Bobcats and the WNBA Charlotte Sting.