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Hotel Coming To Railroad Square

Facebook: Railroad Square Art District

Owners of Railroad Square announced this week that a plan is in the works to build a hotel in the art district and local businesses in the aea are cautiously looking forward to the partnership.

First Friday at Railroad Square is a chance for people to enjoy the unique art district. But as talks of new development come up locals worry the neighborhood could change. On the other hand, a new business could mean more money. The district’s land owners say the community needs financial stability. 

"Over the past few years it’s been about making this art district sustainable," says Adam Kaye. His family owns Railroad Square. "Making an art district--[a] Bohemian kind of warehouse district-turned-art district sustainable financially. So we can do this not just for the time being but ideally forever more." 

"If the stores down here had money, we could make this place amazing," said Ned Stacy, owner of Cosmic Cat Comics.

Kaye says the family tried finding a developer to bring attention and business to the area but knew it would be tough to find a company that would fit in with the neighborhood character.

This week the land owners announced plans for a hotel at the front entrance of railroad square. Mountain Shore Properties is a family-owned company that Kaye believes will keep the authenticity of the art district intact.

“I feel very fortunate that a developer came along that really gets it. And knows that a rising tide floats all ships, that if he can promote the art district and the artist within the art district then he’s also promoting his hotel, it’s good for business good for everybody,” he said.

Stephen Wendell, a partner with Mountain Shore Properties which owns the Hampton Inn & Suites across the railroad, says his company wants to embrace the area’s character.

“I call what we do select service plus and make no buns about it we are building a branded hotel and that’s what we’re doing.  But we customize it a bit from the interior, from the exterior and we go above and beyond and build really nice properties. I think anybody that’s been in our Hampton inn would say wow this is certainly nicer than most Hampton inns that I’ve been in. so by doing that you can create something that feels a little more bit more unique and has a little bit of authenticity and identity to it,” said Wendell.

Wendell says Mountain Shore Properties hopes to use some of the districts’ artist to help with design.

“They’ve already reached out and they’ve asked us who do you recommend for sculptures, where should we go about having an open call for artist to hang their work inside our lobby, they want a commission piece from a sculptor for instance, they want to employ local artist where they can,” said Kaye.

Artist and Director of 621 Gallery, Lauren Baker says she would love to be involved.

“It would be really great for us to help them represent local artist maybe even in their hotel, with all that luxurious wall space that might be something that might be a possibility in the future."

The hotel isn’t the only development announced this week. Wendell says his company is also building retail space.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.