One of the largest publicly traded real estate investment trusts in the U.S. plans to close two of San Francisco's major downtown hotels, saying the city's streets are unsafe and expressing doubts about the area's ability to recover.
Park Hotels & Resorts Inc. announced this week that it stopped making payments on a $725 million loan that secured both its 1,921-room Hilton San Francisco Union Square and 1,024-room Parc 55 San Francisco properties and expects to remove them from its portfolio, citing several "major challenges" in the California city.
"This past week we made the very difficult, but necessary decision to stop debt service payments on our San Francisco CMBS loan," Park Hotels CEO Thomas J. Baltimore Jr. said in a statement. "After much thought and consideration, we believe it is in the best interest for Park’s stockholders to materially reduce our current exposure to the San Francisco market."
"Now more than ever, we believe San Francisco’s path to recovery remains clouded and elongated by major challenges – both old and new: record high office vacancy; concerns over street conditions; lower return to office than peer cities; and a weaker than expected citywide convention calendar through 2027 that will negatively impact business and leisure demand and will likely significantly reduce compression in the city for the foreseeable future," Baltimore said.
In its June investor presentation, Park Hotels cited "on-going concerns over safety and security" as part of its rationale for giving up on the two prominent San Francisco hotels, and said the move would save $30 million a year in interest payments and some $200 million in maintenance expenses over the next five years.
All told, Park operates 46 hotels and resorts mostly located in city centers and resort locations, including the New York Hilton Midtown, the Hyatt Regency in Boston, the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort and the Orlando Waldorf Astoria.
Park's departure comes amid a growing exodus of retailers fleeing downtown San Francisco for various reasons as the city continues to struggle with retail theft, homelessness and a raging drug crisis.