They like to describe it as an oasis a block and a half from the Plaza — a hotel that will be nearly invisible from Otero and Washington streets.
Developers behind the proposed Washington Inn are starting with the ivy-graced Territorial Revival-style McKee Office Building at 220 Otero St. and plan to add a two-story, 11,175-square-foot structure where most of the guest rooms — or, rather, suites — would be.
The McKee building sits 200 feet behind the McKee’s Otero Street parking lot and 300-plus feet down an arrow-straight walkway from Washington Street.
“You’re in this exclusive oasis,” Andy Duettra said.
Duettra and Marc Bertram bought the hidden-in-plain-sight property the equivalent of a football field behind Santacafé and Sotheby’s International Realty Santa Fe in June 2016.
“Show me the other acre of land a block and a half from the Plaza with a historic building,” Bertram said.
Short-term rentals and converting historic buildings is the bread and butter for Bertram and Duettra, whose thumbprints are all over downtown Santa Fe.
Bertram owns the Lincoln Place and Marcy Plaza office buildings, along with the Marcy Street Garage that backs onto the McKee property and will be used for Washington Inn guests. Bertram, 61, also created the Hotel Parq Central from a historic railroad hospital in Albuquerque, and he is a partner in the Zia Station development.
Duettra, 55, owns AdobeStar Properties, including 42 short-term rental units at The Lincoln (adjoining Lincoln Place), Agua Fria Historic Compound, Delgado Compound, AdobeStar Casitas, Water Street Residences and Absolute Nirvana: Spa & Gardens. He got started in 2002 with the Adobe Abode bed and breakfast he still owns.
“None are in residential neighborhoods,” Duettra said.
The Santa Fe Historic Districts Review Board last week delayed approving the Washington Inn project because some board members wanted a portion of the new building pulled back about 20 feet so it doesn’t block the view of the McKee building from Washington Street. Bertram and Duettra are pleased with the H-board meeting outcome and are agreeable to the panel’s suggestions.
Pending all the city approvals and permitting, the partners hope to start construction in the first half of 2022 and welcome guests in summer 2023.
Washington Inn will be a hybrid boutique hotel following short-term rental concepts. Each of the 31 rooms, measuring 600 to 1,400 square feet, will be suites — 21 with one bedroom, seven with two bedrooms and three with three bedrooms.
“It’s a hotel that will definitely appeal to the Airbnb crowd when other traditional homes may not,” Bertram said.
In the short-term rental business themselves and each with millennial kids, Bertram and Deuttra are acutely aware these kinds of options are the preferred mode for a swiftly growing number of travelers and newer hotels.
Bertram noted Washington Inn will have larger rooms with bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms.
“We believe travelers are going to be wanting a different type of product in the future, in part driven by the pandemic,” Bertram said. “I think we will have people who stay longer. It’s not uncommon for us to have people with one- or two-month stays [at AdobeStar short-term rentals].”
Washington Inn will be a short-term rental with benefits. The McKee building will have a front desk, a meeting room doubling as a wedding venue and a gym — features not typically found in these types of neighborhood settings.
A hotel idea is nothing new for the McKee property. Dan Terrell, who died last month, had owned the property for nearly 25 years and had done the last renovations of the building early on, including adding the portico that looks like an original feature of the building.
“Dan had a pretty good vision,” Bertram said. “He thought about doing more offices. He had a hotel scheme. He had a retirement home scheme.”
Hunter Redman, Terrell’s stepdaughter and also an architect, had drawn up plans for a hotel. She works at Architectural Alliance, the project architect for Washington Inn.
“We bought it with some pretty good ideas,” Bertram said.
“The basic concept was there,” Duettra added.
Terrell in 2016 had noticed Bertram’s downtown interest with Lincoln Place and Marcy Plaza, and Bertram and Duettra’s joint effort with The Lincoln.
“He approached me,” Bertram recalled. “He said, ‘I see you guys have been active downtown. Would you be interested in looking at this?’ In terms of making a decision, it took about 15 seconds.”