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Developer David Hale and Hotelier Elizabeth Tullis Renovating the 48 unit
 GuestLodge Motel in Boise, Idaho; Spending $2 million for Retro Theme
 and New Name - The Modern Hotel

By Joe Estrella, The Idaho Statesman, Boise
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Apr. 18, 2006 - The Linen District near Downtown Boise will add a hotel component later this year, developer David Hale said Monday. Hale is partnering with long-time hotelier Elizabeth Tullis -- a former partner in the Redfish Lake Lodge in Stanley -- to acquire the Boise GuestLodge, a two-story, 48-unit travel lodge at the northeast corner of 14th and Grove.

The facility will undergo a $2 million renovation before reopening in late 2006 as The Modern Hotel, which Hale described as a boutique facility featuring 41 rooms, five suites, a new exterior and lobby, a new lounge and completely remodeled rooms and bathrooms. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close in the next few weeks.

Observers believe the hotel will add to the vitality of an area that until recently had been overlooked by the Downtown development boom. "I understand that it's going to have the same retro-theme that David (Hale) has been going for in the rest of the Linen District," said Capital City Development Corp Executive Director Phillip Kushlan. "It sounds pretty cool."

The Linen District, a six-block area on the western edge of Downtown, is being touted as Boise's answer to Greenwich Village in New York or the Pearl District in downtown Portland. The goal is to make the Linen District a mecca for people attracted to the unconventional. The redevelopment district (or area) would run from 13th Street west to 16th Street, and from Main Street south to Front Street.

Hale said Boise officials were impressed enough by his plans that they suggested he draft a new zoning ordinance that allows residential, retail and office projects in the area. The proposed ordinance is still in the works, he said. The ordinance would also govern each structure's height, architectural style, distance from the curb and parking requirements.

Over the next few years, Hale wants to transform the current industrial atmosphere of the area to one of condominiums, trendy restaurants and art galleries that will attract consumers looking for the offbeat. "The hotel will help bring the kind of people to the area that I'm targeting: the creative class, the type of people looking for a different experience in their lodging," Hale said.

Tullis said the new hotel will offer travelers a different lodging "experience" than they could get at a more traditional hotel. "I always thought that Boise needed a boutique hotel, one that offered a more intimate alternative to your big box hotels," said Tullis, a third-generation hotelier.

The Modern Hotel will borrow its name from a Nampa boarding house operated by Tullis' grandparents. She said the boutique hotel concept involves a small, intimate facility that does not have the restaurants or gymnasium usually found in larger facilities. "That's what's going to be different about our hotel, compared with big box hotels that all seem to follow the same pattern," Tullis said.

The upgraded hotel will have a new lounge and modern lobby, as well as wireless Internet access in each room, Tullis said. "We want a hotel of comfort and character that meets the needs of the modern-day traveler," she said. Moreover, the restaurants and shops located in the Linen District will benefit from an uptick in consumer traffic in the area, she said.

Bill Martin, who brought one of the first new businesses to the Linen District when he opened Metro Express Car Wash last year at 1301 Front St., agreed a new hotel will bring added consumer traffic "to an area where it's much needed." "Each new development will raise the bar for the district, and will make this area a better part of the city," he said. "And I think David Hale is a first-rate developer. He has a vision for the entire area, whereas most developers only look at one building or property."

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Copyright (c) 2006, The Idaho Statesman, Boise

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