July 21, 2014

Downtown Fort Worth’s Ashton Hotel sold to Dallas real estate trust

The boutique hotel was opened in 2001 with 39 rooms in buildings that date to the late 1890s.

The Ashton Hotel, a 39-room boutique hotel at the corner of Sixth and Main streets in downtown Fort Worth, has been sold to Dallas-based Ashford Hospitality Trust, which owns the nearby Hilton Hotel.

Matt Mildren, the majority owner and managing partner of Ashton Hotel Partners, said the deal closed Friday. Ashford Hospitality took control of the property, 610 Main St., the same day.

Executives with Ashford Hospitality, a real estate investment trust focused on the hospitality industry, could not be reached for comment on Monday. Ashford Hospitality has owned the Hilton, also known as the Radisson Plaza Hotel, since the mid-’90s.

Mildren said he and the other hotel owners, an investment group that included Vintage Capital Partners in Fort Worth, decided to put the hotel on the market earlier this year. Since then, they had about 10 serious potential buyers, he said.

“Hotel real estate is either hot or cold. Now it’s hot,” Mildren said. “I’m real happy. We’re leaving it in the hands of a big operator who is well-funded. That makes me feel better. They were a pleasure to deal with. We had a lot of high net worth people looking at it for something to do.”

The historic boutique hotel has averaged 80 percent bookings, Mildren said, “which is off the charts. Luckily, I had a great general manager. We were able to make money every year.” The hotel has about 55 employees.

Ashton Hotel Partners bought the hotel in 2007 from Shirlee and Taylor Gandy, Fort Worth business owners and philanthropists. Ashton Hotel Partners completed a $1 million renovation of the property.

During his ownership, Mildren said comedian Bill Cosby, basketball great Michael Jordan and golfing greats Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were among the celebrities who stayed at the Ashton.

The highlight, though, came in 2009 when two of the world’s richest men, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, stayed at the hotel. Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, and his board of directors stayed at the Ashton, where they completed the deal to buy BNSF Railway in Fort Worth.

The Gandys bought the property in 1996 from a Minnesota owner. The building, constructed in 1915 as the Fort Worth Club Building, had been vacant since 1989. The couple also bought the adjacent two-story Winfree Building, built in 1890. Shirlee Gandy led a $9 million renovation of the two structures and opened the hotel in 2001.

The hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bert Stevens and Bob Scully with CBRE represented the sellers in the deal.

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