Evanston Hilton Garden Inn co-owner buys partner’s share

Jim Martinho

Winston Hotels, Inc. now has sole ownership of the Evanston Hilton Garden Inn after purchasing the remaining interest in the hotel last Thursday.

The company, based in Raleigh, N.C., previously owned 49 percent interest in the hotel, located at 1818 Maple Ave., and paid $7 million to its former joint-venture partner Regent Partners, Inc. to acquire the Atlanta-based company’s remaining interest.

Winston now is fully responsible for paying the hotel’s $11.8 million mortgage.

Joe Green, president and chief financial officer of Winston, called the move a good business opportunity, adding that the time was right in the market to make the purchase.

Winston and Regent, based in Atlanta, built the Hilton at a cost of $20.5 million. The hotel opened in July 2001.

Reid Freeman, executive vice president of Regent, said Regent always had planned to sell its interest. Regent acts as a hotel developing company, not a long-term hotel owner like Winston.

“It was good timing in that our partners were interested in owning the hotel and that was a part of our plan to exit our hotel in the first five years,” Freeman said.

Freeman also said Hilton has performed well over the first few years, though the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, did put a minor dent in the hotel’s performance.

But both Green and Freeman said Northwestern’s proximity significantly impacted the decision to build the hotel at its current location. Green said NU’s athletic events and conferences bring in constant business.

“We love university towns,” Green said. “There’s no (decline in business) whether there’s an economic downturn or not.”

Green also said the company does not plan to make any changes to the hotel or to the staff.

— Yuxing Zheng