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October 20, 2019Cart

Business

by Fairfield County Business Journal
by FCBJ

Stamford’s long-delayed Residence Inn by Marriott readies for its debut

There’s nothing like this in the market,” proclaimed Todd Lindvall as he walked through the work-in-progress lobby of the Residence Inn by Marriott on Stamford’s Atlantic Street. Indeed, the new hotel is being promoted as the city’s first extended-stay lodging establishment and the downtown area’s only all-suite property.

“We’re the only hotel in the downtown that’s centered that way,” added Lindvall, area general manager. “The rest are sort of on the fringe of the downtown, which is a huge plus for us.”

Todd Lindvall, area general manager, in the suites of the new Residence Inn in Stamford. Photo by Phil Hall

The scheduled Nov. 19 opening of the $45 million, 156-room, eight-story hotel concludes a difficult gestation period for the property. Initially announced in 2013 by the developer Seaboard Properties, the hotel was situated on the former site of four mixed-use buildings that previously housed retail, offices and apartments. But construction was beset by delays and then came to a stop when Seaboard declared bankruptcy in December 2015, with only 60 percent of the work completed. Seaboard, which also owned the Courtyard by Marriott that sits back-to-back with the Residence Inn and faces out on the parallel Summer Street, initially insisted that the construction would be finished, but quickly the company found itself in a flurry of litigation and property auctions that left the project in limbo.

Last April, John DiMenna, the 75-year-old former president of Seaboard Properties, was sentenced to 85 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, after pleading guilty to federal charges of two counts of wire fraud related to a scheme that cost investors approximately $28 million and cost lenders approximately $37 million between 2010 and 2016.

UC Funds, the Boston-headquartered commercial real estate specialty finance firm, acquired the Courtyard by Marriott in 2016 and picked up the Residence Inn project in April 2017. Urgo Hotels, a hotel management and development company, manages both establishments. And despite its troubled start, Lindvall insisted the Residence Inn is poised for success.

“Marriott has the biggest success rate in the market,” he said. “We at the Courtyard are currently running about 15 to 20 points higher than everyone else in the market.”

Thanks to their adjacency, the Courtyard and the Residence Inn will be sharing a number of amenities, including an all-valet parking service. “There’s 48 parking spaces at the Residence Inn and another 121 at the Courtyard,” Lindvall said, noting that Residence Inn patrons will also be able to make use of Courtyard’s swimming pool while Courtyard guests can take advantage of the new hotel’s 2,000-square-foot fitness center.

The Residence Inn’s lobby will be home to Stamford’s latest eatery, a restaurant called One Club that Lindvall promised will offer a “very high-end tequila bar” along with dinner service. “One Club will not be open for lunch, but with the Residence Inn brand you get a complimentary full-buffet breakfast,” he stated, adding that the hotel has “93 restaurants within three blocks.” Guests who prefer their own cooking can make use of the refrigerator, microwave and stovetop cooking panels in the rooms, while the hotel will provide the grab-and-go crowd with a 24-hour market for food, beverages and snacks.

To accommodate business functions, the hotel features an “amenity level” on the second floor with a 2,000-square-foot meeting space that can handle up to 80 people for a meal service event. An outdoor space on this level, which Lindvall said was the only one of its kind in a downtown hotel, can be used for hosting cocktail receptions.

Lindvall also pointed out that the guest rooms range in size from 575 to 800 square feet and 19 rooms will feature two queen-sized beds, 31 will have a single bedroom separate from the rest of the room and 106 will be studio units with a single king-sized bed. All of the sofas in the rooms will include pull-out beds.

One feature not visible to the guests will be a stand-alone power generator. “This is one of the only properties in this market where a generator feeds an entire building,” Lindvall said. “If we lose power, all of the guest rooms will have power, unlike all of our competitors, where only the emergency exits and the public spaces would have power.”

When the hotel is ready to open, it will be staffed by 60 full-time and part-time employees. Lindvall is forecasting that 60 percent of the Residence Inn guests will be transient business visitors who are in town to conduct business with Stamford’s burgeoning corporate environment, while the remaining 40 percent will be extended-stay guests. And even though the dust of construction has yet to be swept away, inquiries have begun pouring in.

“We’re getting the premium corporate customer already,” Lindvall said, noting that this new supply will meet a growing demand for new downtown lodging. “Courtyard already had enough additional demand to sell out three times.”