Siraff Inc. is planning a boutique hotel at 1301 E. Lark St., next to Zimmerman Properties’ headquarters.
SBJ photo by Kathryn Hardison
Siraff Inc. is planning a boutique hotel at 1301 E. Lark St., next to Zimmerman Properties’ headquarters.

Boutique hotel in works in south Springfield

The planned development will add to a wave of hotel construction since 2017

Posted online

Another boutique hotel is on the docket for Springfield – this time on the south side.

Siraff Inc., a St. Robert-based hotel company, purchased a 1.6-acre lot this summer at 1301 E. Lark St. In between the South National Avenue Price Cutter grocery store and Zimmerman Properties LLC’s headquarters, hotel developer Bruce Farris said he’s planning a boutique hotel concept dubbed The Hotel Urbane.

Farris said the boutique hotel would feature about 80 suites designed to attract travelers at higher price points, though he declined to disclose purchase details or expected room rates.

Farris said downtown’s Hotel Vandivort was his inspiration, noting south Springfield doesn’t have a similar option.

“The hotel should exude sophistication and a little bit of upscale style,” Farris said. “I think one of the successes of the Vandivort is that it creates this personality when you go into it. It’s like an experience.”

Springfield has seen a wave of hotel construction in recent years, with brands SpringHill Suites by Marriott and Tru by Hilton entering the market. Nearly 550 rooms were added in the city the past two years, according to Springfield Business Journal reporting.

Farris said the Siraff development group doesn’t want to follow the formula of other hotel chains, which he said are creating hotels packed with smaller-sized rooms.

“We’re attempting to go against the grain,” said Farris, who expects to break ground next year for a 2021 opening. “We want our rooms to be spacious and luxurious.”

This isn’t Farris’ first hotel venture, but it is his first boutique hotel. Around the St. Robert area, Siraff owns a Holiday Inn Express that opened in 2010, and Farris is part-owner of Farris Hospitality, which operates an extended stay hotel called Studio Z. He’s also part owner of Z-Loft Hotels LLC, which owns an extended stay hotel in the area.

“We’re just dipping our hands into different types of hotels that aren’t out there right now with the major chains,” Farris said.

Overbuilt market
The lot for The Hotel Urbane is diagonal to another developing hotel off National Avenue. A Tulsa, Oklahoma, hotel developer is building a $17.2 million Homewood Suites by Hilton just across Lark Street. Project officials broke ground in October, and it is expected to be complete in November 2020.

Springfield has seen several hotels go online in the last few years, said Tracy Kimberlin, president and CEO of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kimberlin said the local market has recorded a significant increase in supply since the 2017 opening of the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium.

In December 2017, Springfield had 5,666 rooms, and by September of this year, 545 rooms had been added, Kimberlin said, citing CVB data. With Tru by Hilton set to open in November and Homewood Suites by Hilton slated for late 2020, Kimberlin said those additions will result in a 13.5% increase in supply since 2017.

“If you hit the right concept in the right location, you can do well even in an overbuilt market. And we are in an overbuilt market right now,” Kimberlin said.

He said the occupancy rate for hotels in Springfield was about 65% before the wave of construction started three years ago. CVB data shows the occupancy rate through September this year is at 62.7%.

“We’re headed the wrong direction. Most of the hotels being built do not increase demand,” Kimberlin said. “You’re not going to come to a city just to stay in a hotel. You’re going to stay for another reason.”

Boutique trends
Other boutique hotels in Springfield include Vib by Best Western and Hotel Vandivort. O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC also has plans to open a boutique hotel downtown under a Marriott brand called The Moxy.

The Moxy concept is one that Kimberlin foresees doing well in Springfield because of customer loyalty to Marriott. He said he doesn’t know if the market for a boutique hotel exists in south Springfield, and the CVB has not conducted a feasibility study on boutique hotels.

Farris said The Moxy is different than The Hotel Urbane, because The Moxy includes smaller-sized rooms.

“They work better in places like New York or Chicago,” he said.

As for the Homewood Suites in south Springfield, Farris said he’s not worried about the nearby development.

“We’re going after two different types of clientele, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

The Hotel Urbane design features will not target young families, he said, citing the lack of a pool as an example.

Kimberlin said hotels with price points higher than $110 per night are running the highest occupancy – 74% year to date – and that Springfield’s average daily rate is less than $90.

Farris said he doesn’t think he’ll have a problem attracting travelers to his boutique hotel, which he expects to be used frequently by people traveling on business to the south side.

“People kind of weigh the price they pay for the room versus the value,” Farris said. “I think in Springfield, they’re willing to pay a little more for something nicer.”