Downtown Richmond might soon see an influx of world-traveler types, thanks to the opening of a hostel in the old Otis Elevator Co. building at 7 N. Second St.
In late July, City Council unanimously approved a special-use permit allowing the conversion of the 14,000-square-foot, steel-beamed 1924 building. Construction will begin as soon as the organizing committee closes on the property, and completing the approximately $500,000 worth of renovations is expected to take a year.
The hostel, which will join the Potomac Area Council of Hostelling International, USA, will be funded through the mid-Atlantic hostelling nonprofit and through grants from Richmond businesses. If all goes according to plan, it will be up to code and ready for guests in the spring of 2012.
The hostel is expected to have 50 to 80 beds. Overnight stays will cost about $25 to $30 per night, but there will be seasonal fluctuation depending on demand.
Beyond the basics of providing an inexpensive place for travelers to lay their heads, the hostel has a larger mission to promote cultural understanding and responsible travel, says Jennifer Wampler, chair for the Richmond Hostel Committee.
"People who stay [at hostels] are encouraged to gather in groups and share information," she says. "A hostel is sort of designed to bring people together to talk."
The hostel will have parking for up to 30 bikes, and Wampler, who also serves as trails coordinator for the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, says she hopes the hostel will serve as a trail head for the Capital Trail, a 55-mile bicycle route linking Richmond to Jamestown, scheduled for completion in 2014.