When guests walk into what’s now the Mount Vernon Hotel a year from now, it will feel like stepping into a private club from the early 20th century.
The building at 34 W. Franklin St. will soon be transformed into a 170-room Hotel Indigo. MVH Baltimore Hotel, a group led by Baltimore developer Shaffin Jetha, bought the property in a deal that closed Thursday.
The team has a head-to-toe renovation planned for the national historic landmark, which was the first YMCA in Baltimore. Jetha said the group selected the Indigo flag, part of the InterContinental Hotel Group, for its uniqueness; it has the feeling of an independent boutique hotel with the perks of a franchise brand.
“If you look at Baltimore hotel stock, we are very branded and very cookie-cutter, and there is a need for less cookie-cutter,” said Jetha, who would not disclose how much his team paid for the property. “We kind of see ourselves as being the prettier younger sister of the Monaco.”
The development spells the end of the once-planned Hotel Indigo at 207 E. Redwood St.
Construction on the new $20 million Indigo project will start in three to four months and is expected to be complete by the end of next spring. Kinsley Construction is the general contractor.
Jetha hinted at a few of the details guests will experience in the hotel — leather furniture and a fireplace in the lobby, tufted headboards and wood floors in the guest rooms, and a casual, lounge-style restaurant.
“Thematically inside you’ll feel like what it would have been like in a Mount Vernon private club but updated to today’s standards,” Jetha said. “It was the height of Baltimore society, and the height of society was you went to private clubs.”
“Rooms will go for between $140 and $200 per night," he said.
Construction on the previously planned 130-room Hotel Indigo on Redwood Street stalled in 2010 and never resumed. However, the building is under contract by national developers who will use a hotel flag other than Indigo, said Michael Evitts, a spokesman for the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore Inc. He declined to name the development team.
Part of the project is being financed through federal historic tax credits, as well as $6 million in EB-5 capital. The EB-5 program allows foreigners to invest in U.S. economic development projects in exchange for a U.S. Green card. In this case, 12 Chinese investors each invested $500,000 in the hotel through Oriental Dolphins Investments, a Baltimore-based investment company.
As part of the EB-5 program, all investors and their immediate family members receive the same citizenship benefits, including access to U.S. healthcare and education systems.
Oriental Dolphins also has plans for several apartment, office and assisted living facilities in Baltimore and Washington, D.C.