CGI Merchant Group, LLC (CGI) has announced it will make a $30 million investment in Morris Brown College to convert existing campus facilities into a 150-room upscale hotel and hospitality management training complex.

Construction of the 90,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility is expected to begin later this year, and will make Morris Brown the only Historically Black College and University (HBCU) nationwide with both a flagged hotel and a hospitality management training program on its campus.

According to a press release on the project, the hotel, which will be part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, will offer two “food and beverage outlets,” an outdoor terrace and instructional space for the school’s hospitality students. The venture marks another milestone for CGI’s recently launched $650 million Hospitality Opportunity Fund (H-fund), which targets to acquire 20 hotels across North America and the Caribbean over the next three years.  

“Morris Brown’s storied history and prime location make this a perfect opportunity for CGI to fulfill our mission of uniting sound financial investing with a meaningful and measurable community impact,” said CGI Founder and CEO Raoul Thomas. “It is both a privilege and source of pride to be embarking on this endeavor with likeminded business partners who have come together to make history. CGI hopes that this partnership serves as a catalyst for continued change, as more and more organizations and individuals are turning their attention to these important historic institutions which have been overlooked for far too long.” 

 In addition to the development of the hotel and training complexCGI has committed to the establishment of an endowment to fund several initiatives including financial aid to students, future expansion goals, and assisting minority and women-owned businesses in the surrounding community, with the objective of creating the number one hospitality management program at a HBCU in the U.S.  

 The partnership opportunity was presented by Verdun Perry as well as CGI Senior Managing Director, Euclid Walker, who are both alumni and board members of neighboring Morehouse College. 

 Hilton intends to play an active role in the project, serving in an advisory capacity for Morris Brown’s hospitality management program, providing guidance on how the curriculum can best prepare students for careers in the hotel business. Hilton also looks forward to contributing guest lecturers and facilitating job shadowing at local Hilton properties for students, creating pathways for internship and post-graduation career opportunities. 

Given CGI’s mission to support local and minority-owned businesses, the project development team is comprised of Black-owned C. D. Moody Construction and Chasm Architecture, a full-service design firm based in Atlanta.  

 “It is heartening to see major hospitality players not only supporting our academic institution but making a concerted effort to advance equity in the industry as a whole,” said Dr. Kevin James, President of Morris Brown. “Morris Brown has served as a beacon of opportunity for Black and minority students for many decades. We look forward to working alongside CGI and its partners as we continue to carry that legacy and create the next generation of minority hospitality leaders.”  

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.