PORTLAND – The Eastland Park Hotel has been purchased by an Ohio-based investment group that plans “a substantial investment” to refurbish the 84-year-old landmark.

RockBridge Partners, which in the past two decades has bought more than 300 hotels, worth nearly $5 billion, announced its purchase of the 202-room property Thursday. The company said it has picked New Castle Hotels & Resorts to operate the hotel on High Street.

RockBridge Partners declined to reveal the purchase price.

The hotel had been on the market since last fall. Its owners included the Magna Hospitality Group.

RockBridge Partners has told city officials that it plans to eliminate about a dozen units in the hotel that have been rented as apartments. It won’t have to pay the city’s fee of nearly $60,000 per unit to a fund that helps with financing of new rental units.

The fee applies if someone buys an apartment house and tears it down, permanently displacing the apartments, said Nicole Clegg, the city’s spokeswoman. Because the Eastland’s new owner doesn’t plan to demolish the building, she said, the fee does not apply.

RockBridge Partners said it will provide financial assistance to any people who have to be moved from the units.

The company has not set a timetable for the improvements or developed an estimate of how much they might cost, said Adam D. Valente, RockBridge’s senior vice president.

“We’ve got a vision for the property,” he said Thursday, but many of the decisions on renovations will have to wait until the company can better assess the condition of the building.

Valente did say that the Eastland needs “a substantial and extensive updating.”

Valente said RockBridge has no other properties in Maine, but New Castle Hotels & Resorts operates the Hilton Garden Inn near the Portland International Jetport and a Sheraton hotel in Bangor.

The Eastland gained fame soon after it opened, when Charles Lindbergh stayed there during a speaking tour he made after his transatlantic flight in 1927.

The hotel also drew attention when it turned away former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt in 1946, when she insisted on keeping her dog, Fala, in her room.

The hotel said the dog would have to go to a kennel for the night, but Roosevelt refused to stay in the hotel without Fala.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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