Inside The New NoMa Apartment Building Where WhyHotel Is Opening Its First D.C. Pop-Up
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The first residents began moving into NoMa's newest apartment project Friday, and in one month hotel guests will begin staying at the same building.
WhyHotel, a company that converts new apartment units into temporary hotel rooms during a project's lease-up phase, is opening next month at its first project in the District, Equity Residential's 100 K.
Equity began pre-leasing in April for its 13-story, 222-unit building at the corner of First and K streets NE in the fast-developing NoMa neighborhood, and it had 30 leases signed as of Friday. While the leasing team works to fill the rest of the apartments, 95 of the units will be operating as a pop-up hotel. It will then scale down in size as the building's residential occupancy grows.
Hotel guests will have access to all the building's amenities, such as the fitness center, the rooftop pool and the lounge, and they will stay in furnished apartments with features often not found in hotel rooms, like full kitchens, washer-dryers and balconies. WhyHotel will maintain about 20 staff on-site to offer concierge service, cleaning and management.
"We thought it was a great amenity for the neighborhood and residents," Equity Residential Vice President Ben Stoll said. "The units sit vacant serving no purpose [during lease-up], why not have people visiting D.C. experience the neighborhood on a temporary nature until someone decides to make K Street home on a long-term basis."
A startup company that spun off from Vornado, WhyHotel opened its first pop-up hotel at The Bartlett in Pentagon City ahead of the 2017 inauguration. It then opened one in Baltimore at Monument Realty's 225 North Calvert St. Next month's 100 K opening will be its third in the region and first in D.C. proper. WhyHotel CEO Jason Fudin said the hotel occupancy rates at the first two projects have beat the company's projections, and weekday business travelers have been the most common customer.
"A huge piece of our business is Monday through Thursday and Friday folks coming in every week and flying out," Fudin said. "[100 K] is a fantastic location, the building has great amenities and it's proximate to Union Station, all the businesses in NoMa, downtown and the Capitol. You can imagine how many people go to the Capitol Monday through Thursday."
Chicago-based Equity Residential, which delivered a 174-unit project in D.C.'s Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood last year, took control of the land for the NoMa development as part of a 2013 deal to acquire 60% of Archstone's portfolio.
The developer partnered with WDG as the architect and Donohoe Construction as general contractor for the project. It also commissioned several artists to provide works for the project, including two 12-foot-tall sculptures outside the front entrance from Jon Clement, a mural in the courtyard from Kelly Towles and paintings from Timothy Curtis.
The building's amenities, all of which will be available to WhyHotel guests, include a 2K SF fitness center, a first-floor courtyard that connects to an indoor social space with seating areas, a bar and a shuffleboard table. The rooftop amenity space, still under construction and expected to open next month, will feature a pool and a grilling area.
The project is one of at least six multifamily buildings expected to deliver in the NoMa-Union Market neighborhood this year as it continues to be one of the fastest-growing areas in D.C. Stoll said Equity is not blind to the large amount of competition, and it is aiming to differentiate itself with high-quality finishes and service offerings.
WhyHotel is also a differentiating factor for the building. Stoll said the leasing team has discussed the pop-up hotel concept with all prospective tenants and many of them have said they plan to have friends and family stay in the rooms when they visit during or shortly after their move-in dates.
Fudin said friends and families of apartment tenants are another major demand driver to WhyHotel rooms. He is planning a rapid expansion of the concept in the coming years. He said the concept has received a positive reception from developers, who can bring in some ancillary revenue from the hotel rooms and make the building feel more active when its first residents are moving in. He said he is working on at least six other D.C.-area deals he expects to open next year, and he plans to expand to other major U.S. hotel markets after that.
"You're going to see stuff in D.C., the Northern Virginia suburbs and the Maryland suburbs, all the major development pockets," Fudin said. "About 400,000 multifamily units delivered last year in the U.S. so you can get a sense of the volume of potential inventory for what we do."
Fudin will discuss the WhyHotel concept Oct. 23 at the Bisnow Lodging Investment Summit East, held at the Hilton McLean Tysons.