HARTFORD — Downtown’s Goodwin Hotel, closed since 2008, could begin welcoming guests again by the end of this year, under a deal that separates the ownership of the hotel and the adjoining office tower.
The partners that purchased the Goodwin Square office-and-hotel complex last year confirmed Tuesday that they have reached an agreement to sell the 124-room hotel to a partnership of RMS Cos. and Greenwich Hospitality Group, both based in Fairfield County.
“We wanted to concentrate on office and bring in a hotel group that really knew hotels,” Brian Kohn, a partner in last year’s Goodwin Square purchase, said.
The sale of the hotel, which is joined by an atrium to the 30-story office tower, is scheduled to close March 15. Neither side would disclose the purchase price Tuesday.
Randy Salvatore, founder and owner of Stamford-based RMS, said he and his partner, Charles Mallory, chief executive of Greenwich Hospitality, plan to build on the Goodwin’s history as a boutique hotel but bring a New York, contemporary style to interior renovations. The partners, Salvatore said, plan new fixtures, finishes and furniture, but he said a final budget for the work has yet to be determined.
Greenwich Firm May Run Revived Goodwin Hotel
“It will feel like a new hotel,” Salvatore said. “The decor will have a modern twist. It won’t be a cookie-cutter hotel.”
Mallory said the contemporary designs are intended to attract millenials and other younger guests. RMS and Greenwich Hospitality have partnered on three hotels in Fairfield County, all branded “Hotel Zero Degrees,” and marketed with a similiar demographic in mind, Mallory said.
What the Goodwin will be named still hasn’t been decided, Salvatore said.
Salvatore and Mallory said they also plan to reopen the hotel’s restaurant — formerly Pierpont’s and the America’s Cup lounge — which also will be priced to attract a “younger crowd.”
Goodwin Square Owner In Talks To Reopen Downtown Hartford Hotel
For as much that is planned inside, the historic terra-cotta facade will remain virtually untouched, Mallory said.
“The exterior can’t be touched and for good reason,” Mallory said. “It’s a magnificent architectural statement, and we’re very happy to bring that back to life, which will be a very good thing for the city.”
Mallory said the facade — all that remains of an 1889 apartment building that once stood on the site — doesn’t necessarily clash with their goal of attracting younger guests.
“It wouldn’t be the first time a building with an old facade will get a face-lift on the inside,” Mallory said.
Kohn said Goodwin Square’s owners have won approval from the city’s historic preservation commission to make improvements to entrances to the building, at the corner of Asylum and Haynes streets. It is likely the hotel’s entrance will move to Haynes Street, Kohn said.
The city’s hotel market has struggled since the last recession, but the Goodwin would reopen at a time when the market is showing some modest improvement. According to STR, which tracks hotel occupancy around the country, downtown Hartford’s occupancy through October 2015 was 60.8 percent, compared with 56.4 percent for the same 10 months in 2014.
In addition to the Goodwin, there are other hotel proposals in the downtown area. They include a 170-room Hard Rock hotel in Downtown North, targeted for a 2018 opening; a re-opening of the former 96-room Holiday Inn Express on Asylum Street later this year under a new name; and the possible construction of an 81-room Candlewood Suites on Market Street.
As a boutique, “we will be able to differentiate ourselves from other market offerings,” Salvatore said. “Hartford has a lot of potential going forward, and we think we can fill a niche there.”
Greenwich Hospitality’s possible involvement with a reopening of the Goodwin surfaced last month during a commercial real estate conference in the city. Greenwich Hospitality already is active in Greater Hartford with The Matos Group, based in East Hartford, on the development of a Delamar hotel in West Hartford, now under construction.
RMS has collaborated with Greenwich Hospitality on Hotel Zero Degrees in Stamford and Norwalk. They are now building a third hotel, in Danbury, expected to open in late summer or early fall.
RMS also is active in apartment construction in New Haven and Stamford, Salvatore said.
Kohn, an entrepreneur who has worked in real estate and technology companies, partnered with his brother, Steve, an executive at New York real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, along with Westport Capital Partners, to buy Goodwin Square for $17.6 million in an online auction in June.
Brian Kohn confirmed plans last fall to reopen the hotel. Kohn said Tuesday that the partners drew interest from nearly two dozen potential operators, with seven to 10 making serious proposals. The partners were attracted to the strong Connecticut roots of both RMS and Greenwich Hospitality and their track record in the hospitality industry, Kohn said.
Kohn said the refurbishing of the hotel — shuttered by former owner Northland Investment Corp., which later lost Goodwin Square in a foreclosure — would be paired with renovations on the office tower, which are underway. The improvements include a gym, new rest rooms, conference space, an updated atrium and plans to light the top of building, intended to mimic the architecture of the nearby Travelers Tower.
A juice bar is leasing one of the long-vacant retail spaces along Asylum Street, Kohn said.
The improvements in the office tower represent a “multimillion-dollar” investment, he said.
“We see Goodwin Square as being a premiere office building in Hartford,” Kohn said. “No other office building downtown has a hotel.”