Boutique Aloft Hotel slated for David Whitney Building
Louis Aguilar/ The Detroit News
Downtown Detroit’s surging hotel scene is much closer to getting to get its first boutique hotel — a genre of small, trendy lodgings that often become local hangouts — at the elegant David Whitney Building in Grand Circus Park.
The state’s first Aloft Hotel, part of Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide, will join the redevelopment of the Daniel Burnham-designed David Whitney that is expected to open by July 2014 with 136 loft-like rooms. The hotel, to be named Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney, will have what Starwood officials describe in a statement as its signature “pioneering initiatives in pop culture, design and technology.” That includes a “re:mix lounge” and “w xyzbar” that have helped Aloft hotels earn TripAdvisor’s 2011 “Top 10 Trendiest Hotels in the U.S.” and “Top 10 Trendiest Hotels in the World” rankings lists.
Aloft has 55 hotels, and the brand is three years old.
The David Whitney has been closed for several years, but the Aloft deal hopes to reopen it in partnership with hotel investment firm Troy-based Trans Inns Management Inc. and Detroit-based the Roxbury Group. The Roxbury Group bought the Whitney for $3.3 million in March.
On Tuesday, the developers said they hope to nab a key brownfield tax credit from the state for the $82 million project. The Whitney will have both the Aloft Hotel and 108 rental apartments. The building has a sweeping four-story lobby with white terra-cotta columns, marble floor and glass atrium.
“This deal is going to happen,” said David Di Rita , a principal with The Roxbury Group this morning. “There are too many people who want to see this, despite it being the toughest financial environment.”
Metro Detroit’s hotel scene has gone from stagnant four years ago to being one of the strongest-growing markets in the nation.
“Aloft Detroit is a great addition to Detroit and provides a boutique hotel in a section of downtown that is rapidly growing as the entertainment district,” said Michael O’Callaghan, executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.”It is a unique product that will offer exceptional service to both corporate visitors mid-week and leisure visitors on weekends.”
The region is already posting monthly occupancy rates not seen since the Internet boom days of a decade ago. Metro Detroit’s hotel market hit an average occupancy rate of 64.5 percent in October, according to STR, a Hendersonville, Tenn., hotel information company, the highest for that month since the 68.7 percent rate in 2000.
The growth in filled hotel rooms is expected to continue next year. Based on advanced bookings beginning Nov. 1 to Oct. 31, 2012, the Motor City’s hotel scene will be the second strongest in the nation next year, according to TravelClick, an industry research and consulting firm.
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