Giving out-of-towners a taste of Richmond before they even leave their hotel room.
An old building will contrast cookie-cutter hotel chic while helping to transform Broad Street by showcasing local and international art in a modern hotel scheduled to open by Fall 2015.
“Nobody wants to visit a city and feel like they’re from out-of-town. They want to be a part of wherever they’re visiting,” said Ted Ukrop, whose family owns the Italian Renaissance building1 at 201 W. Broad Street that will be converted to a hotel with a downstairs bar, coffee shop, and restaurant. “We’re designing it for the community, and we feel like if we can attract the community then people are going to want to stay here.”
The hotel’s biggest draw will likely be its showcase of original art from various artists, some of whom have worked with Quirk Gallery which Katie Ukrop (Ted’s wife) has directed since 2005.
“I feel like it will make Richmond a real destination,” Katie Ukrop said about the hotel. “I think people are traveling differently and…part of the travel experience is the hotel and learning about a city.” A boutique art-focused hotel smack dab in the Arts & Culture District, within walking distance to shops and restaurants, would help show off Richmond’s identity that residents have appreciated for years.
The idea for the hotel came in 2006 when Ted and Katie Ukrop stayed at the 21C Museum Hotel in downtown Louisville, Kentucky.2 That hotel doubles as an art museum with a modern interior inside a refurbished 19th Century tobacco and bourbon warehouse.
But the hotel’s interior wasn’t the only thing that captivated the Ukrops. “They took of an area of downtown Louisville that was not unlike Broad Street, transitioning somewhat, and the hotel really enhanced the area and spurred further development,” Ted said. Enhancing Broad Street and spurring further development around the Arts & Culture District (PDF) is something the Ukrops have wanted to do for years.
The Ukrops family has owned the 201 W. Broad Street building since 1997. For years, Ted Ukrop felt the building’s true identity was grander than the apartments and offices inside it. “And I always thought Richmond could use a hip, boutique, contemporary hotel,” he said. He kept that idea on the back burner until visiting Louisville in 2006.
“After seeing 21C, we thought what a great idea to combine the two concepts [i.e. art and hotel].” Years later, the Ukrops contracted local firm 3North to develop plans to create a modern hotel with 70-76 rooms.3 Quirk Gallery will also move to an adjacent building (207 W. Broad Street) when the hotel opens–scheduled just ahead of the UCI Road World Championship in September 2015.
Guests of the art hotel will gaze on the outdoor courtyard via their room’s outdoor terraces. Pending tax credit approval, designers will add six rooms on top of the existing building, along with a rooftop deck bar.
The first floor will house the hotel lobby (which will connect to the new Quirk Gallery), as well as a coffee shop, restaurant, and bar.4 “We’re catering to out of town people, but we really want [the hotel] to be a community [spot],” Ted said.
“It would be hard for this hotel to be the same as any other,” said Robert Bristow, born and raised in Richmond, about the hotel’s look. The building’s many 24’ high groin vaults and loft-like windows in rooms with 13’ ceilings already set the building apart from other hotels. “These present tremendous opportunities for our lead designer, Pilar Proffitt, to push, to experiment, and to expose in her unique, rangy way.”
Bristow said the Ukrops are committed to “doing this right” with the hotel’s fixtures and furnishings: “custom-made, solid hardwoods, no veneers, things with heft and materiality that feel good in the hands and look solid to the eye.” Bristow said that he and Proffitt want to make the hotel an “enormous amount of fun” and will have nearly 20 different room configurations. “We hope this will inspire people to come back for a different Quirk experience many times over,” he said.
Katie Ukrop and her husband are excited for what the new hotel will do. “We both really, really love Broad Street, and I feel like the time is right, and Richmond is ready, to have a unique hotel like this,” she said. “Having been on Broad Street for nine years now [at Quirk], I’ve seen a lot of change. I’m hoping that this will even push us into a better Broad Street and a better Richmond.”
image courtesy of 3North
- Built in 1916. ↩
- Ranked the #1 Hotel in the South by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2013. ↩
- Ultimately, tax credits will determine the final number of rooms. ↩
- “We hope to have a lot of great art in the lobby and all the public spaces,” Katie Ukrop said. “We want to put art in as many places as we can.” ↩
- Who is from Richmond. ↩