In Detroit, it appears boutique hotels are the new black.
Plans for a sixth boutique hotel — small, stylish lodgings that tend to locate in trendy neighborhoods — were announced Monday for the city.
Brooklyn-based West Elm, an international retailer of modern furniture and home decor, declared it was going into the hotel business and that Midtown Detroit was one of the five U.S. locations that would be part of the new venture.
The West Elm Hotel, which could offer more than 120 rooms, is planned for an empty lot at the northeast corner of Cass and Canfield. That puts it in an increasingly dense strip of upscale shops and residences.
The hotel, which could open late 2018, will be one block from the flagship store of Shinola, the luxury watch and bicycle maker.
The rise of boutique hotels is a global trend. Detroit is part of the wave as the hotel occupancy rate has been steadily rising for years — currently at 67.6 percent — even as the number of hotel rooms grows in the downtown area, said Michael O’Callaghan, executive vice president at the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“And a younger population likes boutique hotels. Midtown and downtown is really attractive to a younger population,” O’Callaghan said.
Hotel industry analysts have said in the past that while there’s been a steady increase of hotels in the downtown Detroit area, the data shows room for growth.
Shinola announced two weeks ago that it, too, was going in the boutique hotel business. In a partnership with the developer Bedrock Detroit, the Shinola Hotel is a planned 130-room boutique on Woodward at Grand River downtown Detroit. It will be housed in two buildings, including one that last held a wig shop.
After decades of decline, the downtown stretch of Woodward is again on the rise with retail and housing.
“The Shinola Hotel will be like nothing else in Detroit,” Dan Mullen, Bedrock executive president, said last week.
There will be other boutique hotels in the downtown area by the time Shinola Hotel is expected to open in 2018. The city’s first self-described boutique was Aloft Detroit, which opened December 2014 at The David Whitney on Woodward.
Two other boutiques are under construction: The Foundation Hotel is being built in the former headquarters of the Detroit Fire Department. The West Larned building is across the street from Cobo Center, the city’s main convention space.
The other boutique hotel, still unnamed, currently under construction is in the former Wurlitzer building, at the corner of Broadway and John R. A few years ago, the long-vacant building was called one of downtown’s “most dangerous structures” by city officials after pieces of its facade began falling off.
At least one other boutique is in the active planning stage and there are two other concepts that hope to get off the ground.
A boutique hotel is part of the vision for a downtown area being renamed the Paradise Valley Cultural and Entertainment District. The district would highlight African-American arts and businesses. The hotel is planned for what’s now the Carr Center at 311 E. Grand River. The 25- to 30-room hotel is tentatively called the Harmonie Club Hotel.
In the Eastern Market area, there is an effort to build a hotel made from shipping containers. The project is called Collision Works and would be near the Dequindre Cut pedestrian and bike path. But the project is officially on hold, according to the developer.
In 2014, there was talk of a hotel on the site of the Detroit Boat Club on Belle Isle, but there hasn’t been an update on that plan for some time.