Ernie Garcia / The Journal News – The Hyatt Place hotel that celebrated its opening Tuesday at the Cross County Shopping Center represents an emerging hospitality trend in the Lower Hudson Valley.
The 155-room hotel lies in the middle of the Yonkers mall, which since 2009, has repositioned itself as a lifestyle center offering a fitness club, higher-end stores and more restaurants. The idea behind the makeover is to have diverse uses for the mall beyond shopping.
Hyatt Place is the first of three local projects to embody the concept of having a hotel in the middle of a shopping center, which isn’t so unusual in other parts of the country. The nation’s most iconic shopping center, the Mall of America in Minnesota, has more than 50 hotels within a 10-minute drive and one of the newest properties there, the Radisson Blu, opened in 2013 with an entrance attached to the mall.
“Hotels specifically understand that one thing that will give them a competitive advantage is to have the amenities of restaurants and retail nearby,” said Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based national shopping center development consultant with Jeff Green Partners. “I think it’s the wave of the future. The younger people want a more communal experience. They don’t want to be stuck in their rooms, which points us to having retail as part of the project.”
While Hyatt Place’s grand opening was Tuesday, the hotel’s soft opening was April 29. Rooms there typically range from $150 to $200 a night. The Wichita, Kan.-based developer LodgeWorks chose the Cross County Shopping Center because many of their customers don’t want to spend their evenings in office park hotels.
“We began exploring, along with other hotel companies, the opportunity to position hotels as close as we could to the activities people would like to enjoy at night or after their day ended at the office,” said LodgeWorks president Mike Daood.
Ridge Hill in Yonkers is trying to do something similar. The shopping center has hotel plans, and has asked Yonkers officials for permission to build it in the middle of the shopping facility, rather than on the center’s fringe.
On June 10, the city’s Planning Board gave a favorable recommendation to the proposed location change for the 175-room hotel. In paperwork submitted to Yonkers by Ridge Hill developer ForestCity, attorney Janet Giris said the proposed relocation is based on feedback from potential hotel executives.
“Operators have expressed a current interest in developing a hotel in the center of Ridge Hill, among the retail and restaurant uses,” wrote Giris, whose filings didn’t say what hotel brand would open at Ridge Hill.
ForestCity already has mixed-use developments combining retail and hospitality. The company developed Station Square in Pittsburgh with a Sheraton hotel, and Tower City Center in Cleveland which has a Ritz-Carlton and a Renaissance Hotel.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said he expects City Council to approve Ridge Hill’s request. He also said two hotels in the city’s biggest shopping corridor isn’t overkill.
“Both hotels are being built on the 87 corridor, which I think is a very important distinction because most everything thing built on this corridor scores,” he said. “There are no failures when it comes to anything that’s built on the New York State Thruway in Yonkers, whether that’s the casino or Ridge Hill.”
Nancy Rodriguez visited the Cross County Shopping Center around lunchtime Tuesday, and said having the Hyatt Place hotel there is a good idea.
“It’s practical, especially for women because we like to shop,” she said. “And we’re between the Bronx and Yonkers, so it’s a good location. It’s perfect for tourists.”
Meanwhile, in Dobbs Ferry, the Rivertowns Square combines shopping and entertainment with luxury apartments and a hotel.
Last month, the Armonk-based Saber Real Estate Advisors announced construction began on the $150 million Rivertowns Square, a luxury center scheduled to open next year along the Saw Mill River Parkway. The project includes a hotel, although the company contracted to bring the hotel there pulled out and Saber is looking for another hospitality partner.
Rivertowns Square is 80 percent pre-leased and tenants include Mrs. Green’s Natural Market, Chipotle and a movie theater.
The Palisades Center in West Nyack has also discussed mixed uses, but no plans are in place, according to Clarkstown officials. The indoor mall’s fourth floor is empty and past proposals have included a conference center and exhibition rooms in the 243,000-square-foot space.