(Source: Dow Jones Newswires) 

Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, well-known purveyor of boutique hotels, is scooping up distressed commercial real estate properties to expand its presence in niche lodging.

The San Francisco-based company raised nearly $250 million in discretionary cash in an equity fund that closed last year and was funded by private and institutional investors. The money will be used to buy hotels, office buildings and shopping centers from distressed owners who are having difficulty keeping up with mortgage payments amid the economic crisis.

“Our goal is to look for properties that we can turn into Kimpton-style hotels,” Michael Depatie, chief executive officer of the privately-held hotel company, said in an interview.

Kimpton said it has identified nearly 500 distressed commercial properties that could be good conversion candidates and 30 new properties under construction that could be distressed by completion. Kimpton manages 46 hotels in the U.S. and Canada located mostly in urban hubs. The company, which owns the real estate on about one-third of its operated hotels, is investing in distressed commercial property at a time when the hotel industry is bearing the brunt of a brutal downturn.

Read Angela Pruitt’s full article “Kimpton Hotels Becomes Player In Distressed Commercial Property” in CNN Money (May 27, 2009).

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