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Developer: Boutique hotel can work

A boutique hotel can work in downtown South Boston much the way it did in Lynchburg, developer Hal Craddock said during Monday’s public meeting giving an overview of a proposed Downtown South Boston Master Development Plan project.

Craddock, of Creative Boutique Hotels, LLC, who helped develop the 44-unit Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg, indicated people are looking at hotels for more than simply a place to lay their heads.

The Craddock Terry Hotel, which includes two on-site restaurants, is housed in what was once the Craddock-Terry Shoe Factory and a tobacco storage warehouse, and it is a part of Lynchburg’s ongoing effort to revitalize its downtown and riverfront areas.

People are willing to pay extra for a complete hotel experience, explained Craddock, who said the Craddock Terry Hotel is already booked for May 2014.

“It’s also been named the number one boutique hotel in Virginia by one magazine,” he noted. “Small hotels, we believe, are making a comeback, because people are starting to see them as a form of entertainment much like restaurants the past 20 years.” 

The Craddock Terry Hotel tells a story about the past and a story about the comeback of Lynchburg downtown, and it tells the story of what the future of Lynchburg will be, according to Craddock.

“We feel the same way about the John Randolph,” he added. “It’s a beautiful building and has the opportunity to tell a story of the history South Boston has.”

Plans call for from 70-72 rooms at a renovated John Randolph Hotel.

A restored John Randolph Hotel would serve as a “welcome mat” for downtown, added Craddock, who sees a lot of similarities between it and the hotel in Lynchburg. 

“In Lynchburg, we have 53 local investors, and a lot of people put money into it,” said Craddock.

“When we bought buildings in 2003, they brought in $604 to city coffers, and this year they’ve produced $548,000 in property taxes, lodging taxes, meals and sales taxes,” Craddock pointed out. “There’s nothing more profitable than an occupied hotel. People are out there on 58, and what you have to do is get them to come the extra mile.”

Destination Downtown South Boston received a $25,000 grant in February 2012 for a feasibility study for development of the former John Randolph Hotel as a boutique hotel.

The study, completed last July, indicated the building was capable of being renovated and expanded.

The South Boston Industrial Development Authority applied for and received an Industrial Revitalization Fund grant of $100,000 to be able to work with the developer to pursue development of the hotel in line with the feasibility study.