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Blake Hotel to undergo $20M rebranding, renovation

The Blake Hotel in uptown is undergoing a $20-million rebranding and renovation, nearly a year after receiving poor reviews from delegates during the Democratic National Convention.

Starwood Resorts & Hotels Worldwide is bringing the Sheraton brand back to uptown Charlotte as part of the project. The Blake complex’s two hotel towers will be split into two connected hotels: Sheraton Charlotte, opening Aug. 15, and Le Meridien, opening January 2014.

But court filings show the property, on South McDowell Street, is still involved in a years-long dispute over ownership involving the property’s former owners.

“This strategic conversion project gives Starwood the opportunity to both debut Le Meridien and expand the Sheraton portfolio in Charlotte, the second largest banking center in the United States after New York City,” said Allison Reid, senior vice president of North American development for Starwood in a prepared statement.

In a statement, the company said the completed hotels will have their own lobbies and entrances, and shared fitness centers, pools, bar, underground parking and 55,000 square foot of meeting space.

The hotels will have a total of six restaurants, including a rooftop bar at Le Meridien. Rooms in both the Le Meridien and Sheraton towers will undergo extensive renovations, Starwood said. The rebranded hotel will also feature Le Meridien’s signature scent in the lobby.

Starwood representative Bryan Hansen said no executives were available Wednesday to answer additional questions about the company’s plans for the Blake property.

About 600 members of the California delegation stayed at the Blake Hotel during the DNC last year, and the property was widely panned. Days before the DNC, parts of one tower’s stucco exterior fell off the building.

Delegates complained of mold, cockroaches, stuck elevators, broken wireless internet, a flooded room and plaster that was still wet from renovations.

The Blake Hotel was originally built in 1973 as a Sheraton Center, with 310 rooms, an auditorium, 10,500-square feet of convention and banquet space and a restaurant. At the time it was the largest hotel in North Carolina.

A company called HBE Corp., which also developed hospitals, bought the Sheraton for $7.5 million in 1976. The restaurant, named The Marker, was updated and expanded.

In the 1980s, the Sheraton added a second tower and expanded to 613 rooms. In 1984, HBE changed the name to Adam’s Mark, which was HBE’s line of upscale hotels.

In 2005, New York real estate tycoon Joseph Chetrit led an investor group that bought the property, including the neighboring Cameron Brown office building, for $47 million.

The Blake Hotel property was sold in 2010 to Carolina Hospitality Group 2010 LLC for $24 million. Carolina Hospitality is affiliated with Amsterdam Hospitality, a New York City-based company that owns or operates six hotels in New York and one in New Jersey, in addition to the Blake Hotel.

An Amsterdam Hospitality representative didn’t return a message seeking comment.

One of the investors who used to own a stake in the Blake Hotel, Charles Dayan, has sued his former partners over the sale to Carolina Hospitality. He claims he was improperly excluded from the sale, and that the price was too low.

An attorney for the current owners has said Dayan has “seller’s remorse.” The case, originally filed in 2010, is still ongoing in New York. Staff researcher Maria David contributed

Portillo: 704-358-5041 On Twitter @ESPortillo
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