As a new apartment building opens at 225 N. Calvert St. in downtown Baltimore, guests will be checking in and checking out.
At the end of the month, the building will start housing a “pop-up hotel,” offering temporary stays in some of the furnished apartments within the building. It’s somewhere between home-share and hospitality.
While Monument Realty is handling the leasing, the real estate firm partnered with startup WhyHotel. The latter operates the pop-up portion, handling all the booking and services (including 24/7 staffing) associated with a stay.
According to WhyHotel CEO Jason Fudin, the startup is looking to take 100 rooms or more to help “de-risk” the initial period where a realty company is leasing a large apartment building, and some initial tenants might not renew after the first year. Typically this period can run 18-24 months.
“There’s a natural cadence to filling up a building, and a natural cadence to keeping it full,” Fudin said, adding that WhyHotel gets all the proper approval to operate under hotel licensing.
The hotel guests add more life to the building during this period, plus income for the owners. They can also offer extra space for apartment tenants, as the long-term renters get a 50 percent discount. As the building leases up, WhyHotel decreases its presence, and eventually moves out.
As for the rooms themselves, they’re 1-2 bedrooms, and pet-friendly. Plus, they have the benefit of being brand new. Fudin said that the team developing the concept within Vornado noted that lines are blurring as travelers look for an experience that’s more like home through homesharing, and long-term renters want more amenities of the type that might come with a hotel (By the way, the 225 N. Calvert St. location has the rooftop pool and fitness center).
The downtown building will be the second site for the D.C.–based startup, which was spun out of Vornado Realty Trust. An initial site in Arlington, Va., served as the first pilot for the concept.
“One of the things we were really delighted by was in the first four months, 20 percent of the residents from the first project had somebody stay with us,” Fudin said.
At the same time as the Baltimore expansion, the company announced closing on $3.9 million in seed funding, led by Rockville-based Camber Creek, and with participation from Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, among others.
Fudin said the company plans to continue to expand, and will look to remain in Baltimore beyond the initial site.
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