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photo courtesy DKC Public Relations
A watercolor rendering of the hotel lobby plans
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photo courtesy 3north
The elaborate vaulted ceilings that once housed department store J.B. Mosby & Co will become Quirk hotel's lobby.
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blueprint courtesy 3north
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photo by Rob Hendricks
The view from the hotel's rooftop
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courtesy Quirk Gallery Instagram
Like most couples, Katie and Ted Ukrop didn’t see eye to eye on the paint color when choosing a shade for the rooms inside their newest project, the Quirk Hotel. Katie wanted them all awash in Benjamin Moore’s “Love and Happiness,” a soft, flattering pink. Ted said hold the phone. Gray Owl has been added into the mix, as evidenced by the test swatches on the walls next door to the full-on pink model room with hardwood floors.
On Friday evening, travel writers from across the United States got a tour through the 60,000-square-foot hotel and adjacent gallery space, owned by the Ukrops and Quirk Hospitality, LLC, at Broad and Jefferson streets in the Arts District. A lot of envisioning had to done through crumbling plaster, exposed steel beams, and yet-to-be-painted interior brick. The hotel, with 70 guest rooms and five suites, will open in September, says Christian Kiniry of Bank Street Advisors. Room reservations will start in June.
Constructed in 1916 by noted New York architects Starrett & Van Vleck, the Italian Renaissance building once housed luxury department store J.B. Mosby & Co. The store’s elaborate vaulted ceiling and ornamental ironwork staircase have been preserved in what will serve as the hotel’s lobby.
In the model room with 13-foot ceilings, an Aimee Joyaux painting hangs above the king bed wrapped in a white comforter and draped with a woven throw made by Diane Nordt of Charles City County. Dark walnut, custom furniture by Rob Bristow of Poesis Design rings the room. A long, narrow desk sits across from the bed and clever bench built-ins with drawers run under the paned windows.
On the roof, the exterior walls of the five suites were up. Each suite will have its own balcony, says architect Danny MacNelly of 3north. Above the suites will be another floor that will serve as the rooftop terrace, which will be open to the public.
In the lobby, which guests will access at 201 W. Broad St., the check-in desk, where a large, glass display case once held celluloid mantilla hair combs, will face the entrance door.
Behind the check-in area will be the new restaurant, overseen by former Ashby Inn chef David Dunlap, who also has worked at the Inn at Little Washington and Plume. “We did three tastings in one day with three different chefs, back to back, and I ate every bite of his food, “ Katie says.
The lobby also will hold a coffee bar, a cocktail bar, a private dining space and an installation piece by artist Susie Ganch made of coffee lids. “You’ll be able to eat and drink anywhere in the lobby,” MacNelly says. “There are as few separations as possible.” A mezzanine added in the 1940s was taken down to open up the space. “The idea is to engage and show off Richmond.”
The adjacent Quirk gallery space, which visitors can access from Broad or from the hotel, was once a toy and bicycle shop. The walls have been reinforced with steel beams that will also serve as focal points as one enters a soaring, glass-enclosed interior courtyard with brick walls behind the gallery shop. Some of the hotel’s rooms will overlook the interior courtyard.
Also showing work in the space will be Quirk’s first artist-in-residence. That artist will be Leigh Suggs, a recent VCU MFA graduate, Katie says. Suggs will live in an apartment around the corner from the gallery.
The Ukrop family purchased the building for $2.3 million in 1997 and then waited for right time to launch the hotel. They have partnered with Destination Hotels, which will manage the site.
“This is a hotel that was birthed from the gallery,” Katie says. “It will not be a museum hotel with someone’s private collection on the walls.” Art in the gallery and in other public spaces will be for sale. Art in the rooms won’t be for sale, but Katie says she can always put a visitor in touch with the artist.
“Travelers are looking for an experience,” Katie says. “This will be a hotel of little moments. You just don’t know where that moment is going to be for them.”