Tom Rossi and John Blackburn, the principals of Redburn Development who are re-imagining the industrial building at 41 Cross Street as a hotel, are working diligently to make their vision a reality. They have initiated a site plan review with the Planning Board; they have presented their plans to the Common Council Arts, Entertainment & Tourism Committee; they have applied to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a needed use variance. Committed to being good neighbors, the two have met with both First Ward aldermen, with the residents of Cross Street and Tanners Lane, and with the residents of lower Allen Street. Along the way, predictable concerns have been raised about water and sewer, parking, and increased traffic, but according to Gossips sources, a meeting with fellow lodging owners last week raised an entirely new concern: that the hotel is going to be a chain hotel--a Holiday Inn Express or worse--completely out of keeping with the historic character and unique quality of Hudson and hence will tarnish Hudson's image.
This prediction is based on a few things. The first being that Redburn Development does not plan to manage the hotel once it is built. Instead, the hotel will be managed by a hotel management company: Prestige Hospitality Group. That seems a reasonable, indeed a smart thing to do for people who have no experience in operating a hotel, but their choice is being questioned. The hotels that Prestige currently manages, as listed on their website, seem primarily to be chain hotels and motels, among them Comfort Inn, EconoLodge, Days Inn, Sleep Inn, and Holiday Inn Express.
Another thing that is being seen as evidence that the proposed hotel will be part of a national chain is that fact that Rossi and Blackburn haven't come up with a name for the hotel yet. No name fosters suspicion that the hotel will end up with a name like Hudson Days Inn or Holiday Inn Express Hudson.
To get both sides of the story, Gossips shared these suspicions and conclusions with Rossi. He acknowledged that the hotel would be "soft branded." A hotel affiliation was needed to have access to a reservation system. He stressed, however, that the brand would not dictate the hotel's appearance or character. It is his and Blackburn's goal to create a hotel that fits in with the neighborhood and is part of the Hudson culture. He posited that operating a 55-room hotel required a professional company with real experience and defended their choice of management companies by saying that a significant number of the hotels in Prestige's portfolio were located in communities like Hudson, mentioning in particular Lake Placid and Martha's Vineyard. He asserted a management company experienced with hotels of an individual and local character and as well as lodgings of a more uniform nature provided the best of both worlds. He noted that Justin Smith, president and chief operating officer of Prestige Hospitality, is a second generation hotelier.
On the subject of a name for the hotel, Rossi told Gossips they had in fact chosen a name, one they were very happy with, but they were not yet ready to announce it. "The name," said Rossi, "drives the whole design."
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