Historic downtown Akron building to become The United 1: A Blu-tique Hotel

January 12, 2016 -

AKRON, OH (by Beth Thomas Hertz, Crain’s Cleveland Business) – Local developer Tony Troppe is moving forward with his new boutique hotel in the historic United Building at the corner of Main and Market streets in downtown Akron and has decided on a name: The United 1: A Blu-tique Hotel.
 
Troppe is developing the 65-room hotel with assistance from a $1.6 million Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The name is a reference to the hotel’s link to the nearby Blu Jazz+ club, which Troppe also owns, as well as the hotel’s address, 1 S. Main St. He expects the hotel to open by the fourth quarter of 2016.
 
The overall cost of the project will be about $11 million, with about $7 million going toward renovations, he said.
 
Troppe said the renovations, being done by Pride One Construction of Medina, will begin later this quarter. Interior demolition has already begun. The building was renovated in 2000 as office space.
 
Troppe envisions a wide variety of travelers utilizing the hotel, from lawyers in town for a trial at the federal building across the street, to medical professionals visiting nearby hospitals for training.
 
Each floor will have rooms of varying size, from traditional hotel rooms to mini-efficiencies.
 
“It will be a place to stay for a night, or a week, or even a month ‒ a nice blend of business travelers and extended stay,” Troppe said.
 
Troppe has long-term plans for a second phase of the hotel that would include building an L-shape wraparound using the lots adjacent to the building on Main and Market streets. That phase would add 85 more rooms.
 
Initially, the hotel will be independent, Troppe said, but it may affiliate with a national chain once the second phase is complete. He hasn’t set a timeline for the second phase.
 
Riley Hotel Group, based in Medina and a partner with Pride One, will manage the hotel. Riley president Joe Moffa said his team already is involved in planning the financing and design for the new hotel. His company operates hotels in several states; its Ohio properties include sites in Kent, Stow and Mayfield Village.
 
“There is lot of demo that needs to be done since it is an historic building that is set up for offices now. But the exterior is in great shape fortunately,” Moffa said. “It’s really an interior buildout.”
 
He said his company will manage the hiring, training and sales, and will select the furniture, fixtures and equipment.
 
“It makes sense for us to do that since we will be responsible for managing guest comfort,” he said.
 
Troppe said marketing of the hotel likely will begin in summer, when renovations are fully underway.
 
The United 1 will join the Northside Courtyard by Marriott in offering new lodging options in downtown Akron. The Courtyard will have 147 rooms and is expected to open in February.
 
Troppe envisions that United 1 could be the first of a small chain of hotels across the country affiliated with jazz clubs. He sees jazz as a valuable component of any city’s art scene.
 

“It is truly an American art form and can have a healing impact on a community…”
- Tony Troppe

 
After Akron, he said, he hopes to go into cities that benefit from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation funding — such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Charlotte, N.C. The Knight Foundation has been supportive of the arts through its Knight Art Challenge, and he would like to springboard off of that momentum.
 
He has submitted a proposal through the Akron challenge to fund a jazz educational program in Akron. Winners will be announced in April.
 
“The Knights started their newspapers in Akron, and I think it is an appropriate city to start the Blu-tique chain,” he said.
 
Kyle Kutuchief, Akron program chair for the Knight Foundation, said the Blu Jazz+ club has done a lot to bring lively, diverse crowds to the neighborhood around the United Building. He said the Arts Challenge was designed to help creative people, such as Troppe, move their ideas to fruition.
 
“Jazz is an important part of Akron’s history and our present coolness,” Kutuchief said.
 

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BLU Jazz+ was named one of the "Best Jazz Venues in the World" by DownBeat Magazine (2016, 2017)*
   
 
Committed to the preservation of America's treasured art form of jazz, BLU Jazz+ Masterclass Foundation (BJMF) is a new program developed by the founders of BLU Jazz+ Akron that brings “front-row” jazz education performance & mentorship opportunities to student musicians and art lovers alike through an ongoing series of special events throughout the year.
   
 

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