The long-shuttered Hotel Blue at Eighth and Central has been a promised hallmark of the Downtown Albuquerque revitalization for a long time. Several attempts to restyle and reopen the 1965-built, former Downtowner Motor Inn have been announced in the past few years. But residents have seen little progress other than the erection of cyclone fencing and “No Trespassing” signs around the building. Last week, however, heavy equipment moved in and construction crews started taking down some of the interior walls—the first encouraging sign that Albuquerque was on the verge of seeing a new business in Downtown.
Back in 2019 ARRIVE Hotels & Restaurants, a Los Angeles-based hotel and entertainment company, announced plans to redevelop the Hotel Blue property into an upscale “boutique” hotel with a mid-century modern look. The company announced it would spend some $25 million on the project and that in “a perfect world,” as ARRIVE co-founder Ezra Callahan told Albuquerque Business First, ground would be broken in 2020 with a proposed opening in 2021. By January of 2020, ARRIVE further detailed its plans, saying it was seeking $6 million in crowdfunding resources to kick off the project. The company put up a proposal on the newly founded crowdfunding site NextSeed. Needless to say, COVID put a kink in that and so many other business plans. By the time the NextSeed campaign closed out on Dec. 31, 2020, the campaign had raised only $953,700 in donations.
That was the last Albuquerque heard about Hotel Blue until last year when ARRIVE Hotels was suddenly acquired by a company called Palisociety. Palisociety describes itself as “a fully integrated hospitality company that acquires, programs, develops, owns and operates unique hotels and residences across the country.” Started by real estate developer Avi Brosh in 1998, the company is most famous for high-end “bespoke” hotels like Palihouse in Santa Monica and the Palihotel in Seattle. In buying out ARRIVE, Palisociety added ARRIVE Austin, ARRIVE Phoenix, ARRIVE Palm Springs, ARRIVE Memphis and ARRIVE Wilmington, as well as the as-yet-unconstructed ARRIVE New Orleans and ARRIVE Albuquerque, to its portfolio. The acquisition (terms of which were not disclosed) allows Palisociety to continue expanding its primarily West Coast brand nationwide.
“ARRIVE properties feature the most exciting and dynamic hotels and restaurants in their markets, and on the heels of a very challenging year for travel, we are particularly proud to bring together this portfolio under a lean and extraordinarily efficient management platform,” Jorgan von Stiening, president of Palisociety, told hotelmanagement.net in January of last year. Founder and CEO Avi Brosh went on to say that, “2020 ushered in a heightened level of creative thinking in our industry, and we’ve become more inspired and encouraged than ever by the long-term potential of the boutique hospitality sector.”
For now, Palisociety’s plans for Hotel Blue/ARRIVE Albuquerque are very much under wraps. Whether Palisociety is sticking with ARRIVE’s original concept of restoring the hotel to much of its original 1965 look and feel is unclear. Los Angeles-based Palisociety spokesperson Raluca State would only confirm that there was “unfortunately, not much to share at this stage beyond anticipating a 2023 opening.” So we’ll just have to wait and see how Downtown Albuquerque figures into the “boutique hospitality sector.”