Iowa City Sheraton, hotelVetro being sold to Graduate Hotels

Renovations planned at 234-room downtown property

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IOWA CITY — A company specializing in college town hotels is buying the downtown Iowa City Sheraton Hotel.

The current owner of the hotel, RBD Iowa City LLC, has a purchase agreement with Illinois-based AJ Capital Partners, owner of Graduate Hotels, according to city documents. The city council voted Tuesday to transfer parking agreements that allow hotel guests to park in city ramps to the new owners.

Tim Franzen, president of Graduate Hotels, said via email the entire Sheraton, 210 S. Dubuque St. — including rooms and meeting and event spaces — will be renovated in an effort to “tell the stories of Iowa City and celebrate what makes it so unique.” He added details about how many rooms the hotel will have after renovations — it currently has 234 — have not been determined.

“Rooms are designed to inspire a sense of nostalgia, bringing guests back to their glory days of college when life was more carefree,” Franzen wrote, adding that many of the company’s clients are usually alumni, parents, prospective students and visiting professors.

The new hotel will be called Graduate Iowa City and Franzen said renovations to the property, built in 1984, are scheduled to be completed by summer of 2018.

Graduate Hotels owns a number of different hotels in college towns around the country, including Graduate Ann Arbor, Graduate Oxford and Graduate Madison, among others.

Franzen said the company plans to also purchase the 56-room hotelVetro, 201 S. Linn St., also owned by RBD Iowa City. He did not comment on the purchase price of either hotel.

According to the Iowa City Assessor’s online database, the Sheraton, as of Jan. 1, was valued at more than $15 million. It was last sold in 2008 for $7,125,000.

Nancy Bird, executive director of the Iowa City Downtown District, said this new kind of hotel will be unique to downtown and believes Graduate Hotels is a “solid” brand that will be good for the district.

When Graduate Hotels looks at a new city, Franzen said it considers the city’s university activity as well as “business demand drivers.” He said the city’s downtown core, hospitals and theater and literary culture all made Iowa City a good candidate.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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