|By Kevin Collison, The Kansas City Star,
Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Mar. 1, 2007 --The West Edge, Bob Bernstein's mixed-use development going up near the Country Club Plaza, has recruited a hip hotel operator to accompany its world-class design.
Gemstone Resorts International, which operates such posh places as the Hotel ZaZa in Dallas and the Mosaic Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., has been chosen to run the 131-room boutique hotel that is part of the $116 million West Edge project.
"It's going to be something very different for Kansas City and perhaps for much of the country," said Jeff McIntyre, a principal with Utah-based Gemstone. "We love highly-tailored scenarios, and this is a perfect size to personalize the guest experience."
At ZaZa, guests have a choice of dozens of different room designs including a set of suites called the "Magnificent Seven" with such evocative names as "Crouching Tiger," "Dangerous Beauty," "Rock Star" and "The Last Czar."
Ray Braswell, the project manager for the West Edge, said the yet-to-be-named hotel planned for Kansas City won't be as edgy as its Texas cousin, but said it should set a new standard for local accommodations.
"Ours will be a little less trendy," Braswell said. "Our hotel will be very classy. We won't be a ZaZa. We'll be more elegant than that."
McIntyre said Colum McCartan, an Irish interior designer based in San Francisco, will do the interiors at the Kansas City hotel.
Braswell helped Bernstein, the founder of Bernstein-Rein Advertising, in his search for an architect to design the West Edge, which is scheduled to open in early 2008. Besides the hotel, the development includes 205,000 square feet of office space, 26,785 square feet of retail and an underground garage with 1,056 spaces.
Moshe Safdie, the renowned architect who also is designing the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, was ultimately chosen for the project. His design features a cascading group of buildings and terraces descending from 48th Street to Ward Parkway between Roanoke Parkway and Belleview Avenue.
Bernstein plans to locate an Advertising Icon Museum in the West Edge to house his collection of venerable marketing artifacts. The project also will include a 260-seat auditorium and a multistory, glass-covered atrium.
Two older apartment buildings facing Ward Parkway have been renovated as part of the development.
Bernstein said he chose Gemstone because its hotel management philosophy matched well with what he wants to accomplish at the West Edge.
"We want someone who's experienced with boutique hotels ... and also a company that understood the service angle of running a hotel and quality control," he said. "I think their culture is very close to what ours is."
The hotel section is on the south side of the development. One of the terraces will accommodate a rooftop lounge and pool for the hotel facing Belleview. A large entertainment suite also is planned by the lounge.
Braswell said the hotel should appeal to business travelers looking for something more dynamic than a typical corporate hotel, and adults looking for cool weekend getaways both from the Kansas City area and up to 300 miles away. Room rates should average from $180 to $200 and up.
The hotel won't have a full-service restaurant, but one is planned for the West Edge at 48th Street and Roanoke Parkway. There will be breakfast and other "small plate" food available at the hotel.
Gemstone was one of several companies that wanted to operate the hotel at the West Edge, Braswell said.
"It was an easy selection because Gemstone is a top-drawer group," he said.
McIntyre said Bernstein wanted something different from anything else now available in Kansas City.
"We love the Country Club Plaza area," he said, "and we love the fact it will be attached to an office building and have a rooftop night club which will be cool."
In a related development, the first of two 1920s-era apartment buildings along Ward Parkway being renovated as part of the West Edge has been completed.
The building at 910 Ward Parkway has 12 apartments with rents ranging from $975 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,250 for a two-bedroom.
The building is called 910 Park Manor and is being managed by Pathway Property Management.
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Copyright (c) 2007, The Kansas City Star, Mo.
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