Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.® (NYSE:HOT) and Liberty Group today announced that Starwood’s fast-growing Aloft® brand will soon debut in Tampa, Florida. Opening in early 2014 along the Tampa Riverwalk, Aloft Tampa Downtown will occupy the former Mercantile Bank office building as part of an adaptive re-use project developed, owned and managed by the Liberty Group in a joint-venture partnership with Convergent Capital Partners, which acquired the vacant office building earlier this year. Orlando-based Baker Barrios Architects has been selected as the lead architect and interior designer for the project. Aloft Tampa Downtown will deliver style-at-a-steal with 130 spacious, loft-like rooms, forward-thinking technology and a vibrant, social atmosphere in an ideal location along the Tampa Riverwalk, the landmark gateway to downtown. It will be the fifth Aloft in Florida, following the opening of Aloft Miami-Brickwell in 2013. “We are thrilled to add Tampa to the Aloft brand’s rapidly growing list of destinations in Florida and look forward to working with Liberty Group on this exciting adaptive re-use project ,” said Brian McGuinness, Senior Vice President, Speciality Select Brands for Starwood. “The go-to brand for savvy travelers, Aloft delivers high design, accessible technology and a social atmosphere.” “With its urban design aesthetic and appeal to savvy travelers, Aloft is particularly well-suited to adaptive re-use projects like Aloft Tampa,” said Allison Reid, Senior Vice President of North America Development, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. “Aloft has a fiercely loyal following and has proven to be a hit within the development community. Conversions represent a promising growth channel for the brand, helping us bring the brand to new markets more quickly to meet growing demand.” The project is a vision of joint-venture partners Punit Shah of Liberty Group and Santosh Govindaraju of Convergent Capital Partners. Collectively, the companies have invested over $550,000,000 in performing / sub-performing commercial mortgages and real estate including hotels, golf courses, multifamily, and office in just the past four years.