News Column

Blackstone buying Jackson's, Westin

August 22, 2014

By Richard Mullins, Tampa Tribune, Fla.

Aug. 22--The owner of the Jackson's Bistro and Westin Harbour Island hotel property has made a deal to sell the sites to the New York-based private equity company Blackstone. Price: $49.5 million.

"We have a contract now, and the closing is set for Sept. 3," said Maurice Wilder, founder of Wilder Corp., which has owned the property since 2005.

Collectively called Knights Point, the complex sits at 601 S. Harbour Island Blvd. at the northwest corner of Harbour Island, where a bridge from downtown Tampa meets the island.

Wilder originally bought the overall set of parcels in 2005 for a total of about $32.8 million. Thursday, he cited health reasons and a desire to cut back on his holdings as his primary motivations to sell. Based in Clearwater, Wilder Corp. owns several other properties in the region, including Airport Executive Center, Ameri-Life Towers, the Atrium at Clearwater and others. He also controls about 52,000 acres in Texas and Nebraska to raise corn, cattle and buffalo that he's also cutting back on.

The Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's Office set a value of $6.3 million on the Jackson's portion of the building and a value of $20.4 million on the hotel portion just to the south.

The 12-story Westin has been a signature hotel in the downtown district, and the Jackson's site has long been a popular waterfront restaurant. During the Republican National Convention in Tampa, AT&T Corp. essentially rented the whole restaurant for a week to host special events. Docks out front often host the larger yachts that come to moor in the downtown area.

"Blackstone had been leasing some property there from us before," Wilder said, "and then they suggested they wanted to buy it two months ago."

What happens next to the site is less clear, Wilder said. His deal involves selling two parcels in the complex to Blackstone. On the same day that deal closes, he said, Blackstone will sell the lower portion that includes the Jackson's restaurant to another developer. Wilder said he did not know that developer since "that's not part of my deal."

Founded in 1985, Blackstone is one of the world's largest private equity firms, with $68 billion in assets under management.

Calls to Blackstone representatives were not immediately returned.

(813) 259-7919

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Source: Tampa Tribune (FL)

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