Airline Highway Deluxe Inn sold for $1 million

The Deluxe Inn, an extended stay hotel on Airline Highway across from Celtic Media Centre, has been sold for $1 million to a California company that plans to extensively renovate the 225-room property in order to attract business travelers.

ELF Hotels bought the nearly 40-year-old hotel from BMR Funding, a Connecticut real estate investment trust, in a deal filed Wednesday with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court’s Office.

Louis Sirico, CEO of ELF, said the plan is to spend $1.5 million overhauling the hotel, such as repainting rooms, fixing balconies and redoing the roof.

The hotel will be renamed ELF Express.

“Our goal essentially is to make the hotel really, really nice and keep the rates where they are now,” he said. Those rates now are $48 a night and $210 a week.

ELF, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., specializes in corporate housing for Silicon Valley clients such as Google, Apple and Facebook.

This is the company’s first entry into the hotel business.

Sirico said his company looked at 75 hotels across the U.S. before buying the Deluxe Inn. While the hotel needs work, he said it has “good bones” and is in a “wonderful location” in Baton Rouge, a city with a “lot of construction and development” going on.

The plan is to attract people working in the manufacturing, construction and petrochemical industry. The nearby Celtic Media Centre is another potential source of clients for ELF Express, Sirico said.

“We’re not going to get actors and actresses on HBO shows,” Sirico said. “But for every one person in front of the camera, there are five people working behind the camera. We want to be where they stay.”

Carmen Austin, an agent with Saurage-Rotenberg Commercial Real Estate, who represented the buyer and the seller, said there is 2,000 square feet of restaurant space in front of the ELF Express that will be available for lease.

Austin said Sirico is a “knight in shining armor,” who will transform the hotel into something that can play off of new developments like Celtic and the Costco store, set to open next week.

“I think the surrounding neighbors will be pleased that he will be able to eliminate what was becoming a blighted eyesore,” Austin said.