Commune Hotels helps revive Detroit, makes play in Mexico


Motown is making a comeback, and Commune Hotels & Resorts is looking to be a part of it. A group of investors say they have made a $1.5-million offer to buy a piece of Detroit city-owned land near downtown’s Grand Circus Park to build a 118-room boutique hotel, which would be part of Commune's Joie de Vivre brand.

The hotel would be on the site of the former Statler Hotel, which was razed in 2005.

The vacant site is part of the 45-block entertainment district that will be anchored by the new home arena for the Detroit Red Wings.

The Detroit News reports that the investment group made the formal offer to the city and to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. last week after years of discussions. The development group expects the project, dubbed the Fitzgerald Place, to be complete by the third quarter of 2015.

It's great news for The Motor City, which was hit hard by the Great Recession and is still slowly recuperating. Above all, it is a sign that a rebounding downtown continues to attract plans.

"We hope this energizes immediate meetings, because we are ready," Derek Brown, one of the investors, told The Detroit News. Brown is founder and president of Detroit-based Quorom Commercial development firm.

"We’ve been working on this plan for four years and we are excited to see that investors are looking at Detroit as a good opportunity," said William McCrary, another developer.

Downtown is experiencing a hotel boom of sorts with at least two new hotels already planned downtown, including an Aloft in Grand Circus Park.

The investors say they have gained exclusive rights to the Detroit market of the Commune hotel brands. Commune, which is owned by Hyatt family billionaire John A. Pritzker, is also making news south of the border withits Thompson brand.

The company reports it will develop a Thompson Hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, as part of a mixed-use project from Mexico-based real estate development firm, Thor Urbana.

"Mexico is one of the hottest markets in Latin America," said Joseph Sitt, chairman of Thor Urbana. "A combination of both economic and demographic growth, as well as an ambitious reform agenda that is expected to improve education, increase competitiveness, and open the energy sector to private foreign investment, will be very beneficial to Mexico's mid- and long-term economic growth."

"This project is a powerful combination of luxury hotel, sophisticated nightlife, and well-curated retail and dining in the most privileged location in downtown Playa del Carmen," said Niki Leondakis, CEO of Commune Hotels & Resorts. "This deal marks our ongoing expansion into resort areas and the growing presence of Thompson–branded lifestyle hotels in Mexico and throughout Latin America.

The 1245-room resort is slated to open in 2015, the luxury resort will be known as the Thompson Playa del Carmen. The hotel is Commune's second in Mexico following its Thompson Los Cabos project currently under development.