Six years after the project was announced and three years after work began, the largest hotel operator in the region is ready to open its new property with a new brand in the market.
Shamin Hotels has completed construction of its Moxy Hotel at 501 E. Franklin St. The 100-room hotel in downtown Richmond is scheduled to open on Friday.
A new Marriott brand, Moxy is aimed at millennials and described by Shamin CEO Neil Amin as “bar-centric.” Guests can check in at the hotel bar, exchange notes with other guests, and take room art with them when they leave. Rooms include technology-enhanced features and can be rearranged and personalized.
The opening marks the end of a six-year process that began with Shamin’s purchase of the former eight-story office building for $2.5 million. The company was the winning bidder in a 2016 tender launched by the Richmond Economic Development Authority, which previously owned the property.
Rehabilitation and renovation work on the century-old building did not start in full swing until about three years later, with a building permit issued by the city in the fall of 2019. Shamin had originally planned to begin construction in beginning of 2017.
Amin said the delay was due to multiple revisions to the project, which involved historic preservation tax credits.
“The building is located in the (fifth and main downtown historic district), and we have been focused on striking a balance in terms of maintaining the historic fabric of the building while providing a modern boutique experience for which Moxy is famous,” Amin said.
“It required many adjustments to the plans, and we ended up submitting seven revisions to the Department of Historic Resources and Marriott International. As we continued to add unique features to the hotel, the cost increased,” he said.
Amin did not share the final cost of the project.
Built in 1916, the Chicago-style building at the corner of Fifth Street was the first commercial structure built on East Franklin Street, according to a description of the fifth and major downtown historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.
The interior of the building has been remodeled to create the 100 guest rooms and community spaces, including the bar and lounge, and amenities including a fitness center.
The hotel shares part of an adjoining parking lot that is also owned and used by Fifth Street neighbor Second Presbyterian Church of Richmond. Because the six-level deck abuts the hotel’s south wall, about a dozen rooms were designed without windows.
“Internally, we call them ‘vampire rooms,'” said Jeremy Lecraw, general manager of the hotel, who spent five years in food and beverage management at the Quirk Hotel in Richmond.
Room rates listed on Marriott’s website for a one-night stay this weekend ranged from about $285 for a windowless room to $330 for a standard room with a queen-size bed. Amin noted that daily rates would vary.
Although the project took longer than originally planned, Amin said its duration did not impact the described “trendy” design of the hotel.
“Moxy is one of the hottest brands in the industry right now (and) continues to attract a wide range of travelers who want a fun and stylish experience. The project has been continuously updated to reflect the brand’s current design,” he said.
The hotel was designed by architect Michael Sweeney and New York-based Celano Design Studio was the interior designer. North South Construction, based in Chesterfield, was the contractor for the project.
Shamin celebrated the opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception on Monday evening. Among those present were Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, Director of Economic Development Leonard Sledge and Virginia Del. Lamont Bagby.
The hotel is just a block from Shamin’s headquarters in the Richmond Times-Dispatch building at 300 E. Franklin St., which he purchased in late 2019. Shamin was previously based in Chester.