A Jazz Age-built hotel in downtown Newark will soon be fully renovated in time for a 2017 grand re-opening, its new face befitting the image of a revitalizing city that is attracting more visitors to Newark's downtown core.
"It's going to be the coolest hot spot in the city," said Miles Berger, the owner of the hotel and the CEO of The Berger Organization, a privately owned diversified real estate company involved in the development and management of residential, commercial and hospitality properties throughout Newark, the rest of North Jersey and New York City. "We're excited and proud to be behind the hotel's revival."
The hotel, to be named the TRYP Hotel, is part of the Wyndham organization, a European-based, select-service urban hotel brand. The hotel will have a distinctly European sensibility, with an expanded open hotel lobby that will have unrestricted access between the hotel's front desk, business center, restaurant and bar. As part of the open format, bar patrons will be able to gaze directly into the two-story fitness center.
The hotel will have 100 rooms, each larger that the original 150 rooms, with fully-modernized bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as a fast, brand-new Internet wi-fi system in which each room will have its own wi-fi access point to avoid the loss of signal.
The soon-to-be completely renovated hotel is a piece of the chess board of Newark's downtown development. The new Newark landscape includes the Whole Foods soon to open in the former Hahne's department store on Broad Street facing Military Park, as well as Dranoff Properties' $116 million project to build a 22-story luxury apartment building across the street from the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) and right behind the Robert Treat Hotel. The Dranoff project will result in the first high-rise apartments to be built in New Jersey's most populous city in 40 years.
The hotel, formerly known at the Carlton Hotel and closed for renovation in 2011, was gutted by the end of 2014, and construction began in January. The grand opening is targeted for July 2017, according to Berger.
The multimillion dollar refurbishment of the hotel, located at 24 East Park Street across from the PSE&G utility office complex, is putting nearly two dozen Newark employees to work as part of following the developer's economic development package with the City of Newark and the state Economic Development Association (EDA).
Originally called the St. Francis Hotel when it was built in 1924, the hotel has a colorful history, befitting the time it was first put up.
The infamous gangster Dutch Schultz, on the run from the American Mafia's governing Commission, for stepping out of line, was gunned down on October 23, 1935 two doors down at 12 East Park Street at the now-demolished Palace Chop House. Schultz died in delirium the next day in a nearby Newark hospital.
"Dutch knew they were after him, so he fled to Newark, which was obviously not far enough," Berger wryly recounted. "He should have gone to the Catskills. He would have had a better shot at living."
Berger believes that his revived hotel has a great shot for success. He points to the TRYP Hotel's favorable room rates, which will average $130-$140 a night, as compared to New York City rates of approximately $230-$240 a night for the same size room. Downtown Newark's easy accessibility to Manhattan by public transportation also gives the hotel's location built-in advantages.
For Berger, the hotel's outlook is bright, framed by a well-known and paraphrased adage: if you build it right, and build it in the right place, customers with come.
"If Newark offers quality lodging facilities, then the public will buy. The proof is in the pudding," Berger said. "We're very confident that we will have the proof in place to back our hotel up, and that the public with definitely come to downtown Newark."