Credit: Donnell Suggs / The Atlanta Voice
Both big and small, Black-owned hotels in Georgia are slowly growing
According to the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD) there are just nine Black-owned hotels in metro Atlanta. The Atlanta Voice explored a number of Black-owned hotels in order to further highlight the existences in the city’s hospitality space.
The Hamilton Howell House
By Isaiah Singleton
In the heart of Sweet Auburn in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, just around the corner from the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park and a mile from downtown, the Hamilton Howell House sits with decades of history and events.
The Hamilton Howell House, a bed and breakfast, was built in 1893 by Alexander Hamilton, Jr., the leading African American contractor, and builder in Atlanta as his family’s home.
The Howell/Youngblood family acquired the house in 1984, making them only the second family to live in the home since it was built 91 years earlier.
The rooms of the home have been named for American cultural icons such as Aretha Franklin — the Queen of Soul, but whose talent spanned all genres of music. Sun Ra — the avant-garde jazz musician. W.E.B. DuBois — scholar, author, philosopher, and activist. Elizabeth Catlett — painter, printmaker, and sculptor. Maya Angelou — poet, singer, playwright, director, and activist. John Coltrane — pioneering jazz saxophonist and composer.
The Hamilton Howell House is located at 102 Howell St N.E., Atlanta.
The Hyatt Centric Midtown Atlanta
By Janelle Ward
The Hyatt Centric in Midtown is a 194-room hotel situated within walking distance of Piedmont Park and Georgia Tech. The property is also located in close proximity to Google’s Atlanta office, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and several local eateries. Public amenities for guests include two fully-functional restaurants, a swimming pool, fitness center and 3,700 square feet of conference space capable of holding up to 200 guests.
RLJ Lodging Trust purchased the property in 2014, converting it to the first Hyatt Centric hotel in the state four years later. The trust was founded by Robert L. Johnson, an entrepreneur perhaps best known for co-founding the pro-Black television network BET in 1980. The REIT is the successor of RLJ Development, a hotel investment platform formed in 2000 by Johnson and his business partner, Thomas J. Baltimore, Jr. RLJ Lodging Trust became publicly traded in 2011, merged with another lodging trust in 2017 and evolved into the real estate investment trust tycoon it’s recognized as today in the following years.
The trust has since acquired approximately 100 branded hotels located across 23 states and Washington, D.C. RLJ Lodging Trust now owns five hotels in Atlanta, three in Midtown and two in Buckhead.
Three-part formula for achieving real estate success in the hotel business
By Noah Washington
Less than 2% of hotel proprietors are Black, according to research conducted in 2022 by the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators, and Developers (NABHOOD). Jessica Myers is currently making history in the hotel real estate industry. Myers is a part of an exclusive group of Black and female hotel owners in America. An Atlanta resident and Georgia State University graduate, Myers was introduced to real estate through a career in media sales for CBS while in New York City. Through CBS, Myers was introduced to real estate investment trusts (REITS).
After learning wholesaling, a strategy that involves a wholesaler obtaining a contract on a property with its seller and in turn selling the contract to an investor, Myers learned about how investors were able to borrow money and leverage debt to gain access to capital, and realized that she could do the same.
This was the beginning of Myers’ reign in real estate in America. Myers later made headlines with her partner, Davonne Reaves, after acquiring Home 2 Suites in El Reno, Oklahoma. The hotel, valued at $8.3 million dollars in early 2021, made the two the youngest Black hotel owners in the industry. At this point, Myers was very comfortable putting deals of this caliber together.
“That was the entryway into the commercial space, which then led to more partnerships with more people, which then led to two more hotels,” Myers said.
Myers came up with a three-part formula for achieving real estate success, comprising:
- The knowledge on how to capitalize on said opportunity
- The capital to execute.
When first meeting with Reaves, the two decided early on who would take on what role, and from there they were able to come together with multiple firms that would ultimately fund their excursion that led them to the acquisition of their first hotel. “We are currently working on an international resort,” added Myers.