AKRON, OH (by John Harper, cleveland.com) – By the end of the year, developer Tony Troppe wants to have a 65-room jazz-themed boutique hotel operating inside the United Building at the corner of Main and Market streets, the apex of downtown Akron.
Troppe’s work to transform the once dormant downtown into a noteworthy entertainment district has been underway for the better part of two decades, but with his new hotel Troppe is hoping to start something bigger.
“I think this hotel will be the catalyst for something greater,” Troppe said Wednesday. “We are putting a first-rate hotel right at Akron’s doorstep, and people will be surprised what they see when they step outside.”
“We are putting a first-rate hotel right at Akron’s doorstep, and people will be surprised what they see when they step outside…”
- Tony Troppe
The hotel, which Troppe has named the Blutique Hotel Akron after his successful Blu Jazz+ nightclub across the street, will be Akron’s second downtown hotel to open in less than a year. The Courtyard by Marriott is scheduled to open on North Street next month.
The hotel, slated to open in 2017, could be the first in a new line of projects for Troppe.
“If we can make this work in Akron, Detroit is going to want one, Philly is going to want one, Charlotte is going to want one,” Troppe said. “But I want to walk before I fly.”
What is a jazz hotel, exactly?
Think Hard Rock Hotel, but a little softer on the lighting effects. If Akron is going to break out of its shackles as a tired Rust Belt city, Troppe said it needs to roll out the carpet for visitors and give people a reason to stay in the city center.
“And the carpet in Akron is colored Blu, b-l-u,” Troppe said.
The hotel is going to feature mid-century finishings in hues of blue, gold and copper. Troppe hired architect Alan Burge, who designed the interior of Blu Jazz+, to do the interior work.
But some elements of the historic United building, formerly headquarters of the United Cigar Company, will remain true to their neo-classical roots. Hallways lined with terazzo floors and inlaid marble walls will have to be preserved under the building’s historic designation.
“It will be a reflected image of mid-century modern. You won’t know what year it’s happening in,” Troppe said. “It will feel mid-century, but you won’t quite know what century.”
How many hotels does downtown Akron need?
If Troppe’s market studies are correct (he estimates demand for around 400 hotel rooms downtown), he has schematics already drawn up to turn the backlot into a modern glass appendix which will house 125 rooms, in addition to the first 65.
The developer has had little trouble so far turning seemingly far-fetched dreams into brick-and-mortar success. His Cascade Lofts on North Street are expected to open in March and are already half leased, a notable feat given that Troppe hasn’t listed or advertised the apartments.
It will be the second time the building will qualify for federal historic tax credits — the first time was in 2000 when Troppe turned the building into an office complex. This time around Troppe estimates the federal government will pitch in about $1.3 million toward the $11 million renovation. State historic tax credits will add $1.6 million.
In its first year of operation Blu Jazz+ drew considerable attention, earning a spot in Downbeat Magazine’s annual listing of top jazz clubs in the world.
Troppe’s hoping for the same kind of attention with Blutique.
Check out Tony Troppe’s interview with WAKR’s Jasen Sokol earlier this week:
|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.|