By Kevin Collison
Back in its previous heyday, the historic Fairfax building at 11th and Baltimore, later known as the Brookfield, was the place to buy a train or airplane ticket in Kansas City.
When it opened in 1930, the 12-story Art Deco tower was named after the then-new Fairfax airport in Kansas City, Kan. and many railroad, airline and related companies had their offices there from the 1930s through the early 1960s.
It’s that transportation theme that’s being carried on in the building’s new life beginning next month as an Hotel Indigo and Fairfax Lofts following a $33 million renovation.
“Each Indigo adopts it’s own identity and that’s why we have a transportation theme,” said Eileen Lange, sales manager for the hotel.
Around her, 50 workers from Rau Construction were busy readying the combined hotel and apartment building for its scheduled opening Dec. 15. The architect is Rosemann & Associates.
One of the last big jobs was the lobby bar and dining area to be called the Dott Boss’ Cocktail and Coffee House. Dott was a celebrated lounge singer at the old Gus’ Cocktail Lounge at 1106 Baltimore back in 1930s and ’40s.
General Manager Dustin Weber is still searching for a photo of old Dott to decorate her lounge.
“We’re excited,” he said. “One of the biggest things is Dott Boss, a place where guests can come and get a drink and bite to eat before going out.”
Weber also envisioned Dott Boss as being a popular place for breakfast and lunch.
The old building was a mess when its Wisconsin developer, Great Lakes Management, acquired it. It had been mostly empty for 20 years and completely vacant its last 10.
Barricades had closed adjoining sidewalks for several years because of the debris falling from its eroding facade. The basement had so much dirt and debris the developer had to cut a hole in the first floor to dredge it out.
All that has been transformed by the new owner who helped finance the project with federal and state historic tax credits, programs that are now being threatened in Washington and Jefferson City.
A fake facade added to the lower exterior in the early 1970s has been removed to restore the buildings original appearance. Inside, the 118-room Hotel Indigo occupies floors one through nine, and the 27 Fairfax Loft apartments are on the top two floors.
The Indigo is a boutique concept operated by International Hotel Group. The transportation theme is used throughout the hotel with murals in the public spaces and mock post cards decorating the rooms. There’s a mix of king- and twin-queen bed rooms and the rates are expected to be $209- to $249 per night.
The hotel features a fitness center on the second floor along with meeting rooms. It’s scheduled to be the 50th Indigo opened nationwide. Another Hotel Indigo is expected to open downtown late next year in the Crossroads Arts District on Grand Boulevard.
The Fairfax Loft apartments are a mix of one- and two-bedroom units ranging in size from a 490- to 1,200 square feet. Monthly rents will range from $1,100 to $2,000. Residents will have a separate entrance and their own fitness center in the basement.
They’ll also be able to order room service from the hotel and arrange for housekeeping service. Free cable and Internet service will be offered the first year. As for parking however, residents will have to find their own space in one of the several nearby garages.
Hotel guests will have a choice between valet parking or self-parking.
Despite all the new hotel and apartment developments recently completed or in the works downtown, Weber believes the reborn Fairfax building will fare well. He predicted the apartments would be full by next spring. As for the hotel.
“We believe the demand is there, especially for the weekends,” he said.
Will the residential portion be able to use hotel concierge services? Hotel/residential hybrids are a trend now given residential can maintain hotel services during down periods. How many hybrids does KC have now or in development? The Plaza Alameda Tower uses Hotel Intercontinental services but not in same building.
Residents will be able to get room service and arrange for hotel to do housecleaning as well. I believe the Power & Light apartments also can obtain some services from President Hotel across street too. Not sure how many other hybrids are out there.
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