By Henry duBose '24
On Monday, October 23, 2023, Mr. Harry Wheeler presented to the Finance Academy on his job as Principal at Group One ̶ an award-winning design firm, or studio, based in Boston that specializes in architectural, interior design, and purchasing services for properties involving hospitality.
Mr. Wheeler began by explaining what he calls a “typical project.” This project was the the new construction development of the Canopy by Hilton hotel near Faneuil Hall. Mr. Wheeler explained how Group One provides the service of architecture, interior design, working with the brands, and in some cases assisting with building the development team for projects which was the case at the Canopy. Mr. Wheeler’s expertise in hotel architecture was especially valuable in this project because the Canopy was to be built on top of the South Artery tunnel. Mr. Wheeler continued his presentation with a case study where he used the proposed hotel in Worcester ̶specifically, the floor plans of the hotel and restaurant, adjacent to the ballpark for the newly moved Woo Sox.
Mr. Wheeler showed and explained the pro forma Group One and their clients uses to choose which projects are taken on. He first explained the hard costs, soft costs, and underwriting analysis of the projects. The studio’s most important projection for choosing a project is the year of stabilization that occurs a few years into the project. Afterward, Mr. Wheeler talked about how his clients finds funding for these sometimes multi million-dollar projects. He walked the Finance Academy through the relationshipswith financers and developers as well as General Partner and Limited Partners.
Finally, Mr. Wheeler talked about how the multiple players in a project can make a profit. Group One as Architect and Designer makes money only during the development and construction phase of the project. He also went into the structure where the developers assemble the limited partners and how the risks associated with this phase are outweighed by the possible returns a developer can make because of the long-term plan hotels undertake with revenue, costs, and expenses. Ultimately the developer can increase their rewards through a “Promote” structure thus meeting certain return thresholds that increase their share of the profits. The General Partner/ developer can then can sell their position to return their costs along with the costs from the other Partners and also realize a profit, finishing their overall involvement on a project.
The Finance Academy thanks Mr. Wheeler for teaching its members about the lucrative renovations and constructions of properties in the hospitality industry.