Blog Archives

Looking for Something Unique in Downtown Phoenix this Friday Night?

[Source: Habitat Metro]

Still thinking about what to do this Friday or Saturday evening?  Come visit Habitat Metro‘s new acquisition—the Lexington Hotel at Portland Street and Central Avenue.  And, check out our “pop-up” restaurant – Cycle.

In addition to great food and fun drinks, visit the studios of our in-residence artists – Kyle Jordre and Jenny Ignaszewski.  A whole new way to see First Fridays in Downtown Phoenix…tim sprague

What is Cycle:

Don’t Blink! Cycle is a new restaurant with an expiration date. New chefs, menus and food trucks will “cycle” through the short life of the restaurant. Cycle will only be open at the Lexington Hotel ’til Fall when the entire property undergoes a 6-month renovation.

When is it open?

Cycle’s grand opening will be held on First Friday, April 1, 2011. As usual, the chef, menu and drinks will be announced the week of via Twitter and Facebook. No peeking. We will surprise you.

What is a pop-up restaurant?

The first of it’s kind in Phoenix, Cycle is intentionally a short-lived restaurant with no resident chef. The menu rotates often with new chefs and food trucks on a regular basis. These mini-restaurants exists for only a handful of days, so don’t blink!

Who’s the chef?

Depends on the cycle! Cycle has scheduled the city’s top chefs and gourmet food trucks who will bring their short-lived menu to the restaurant. Check the website for full schedule.

What type of food?

Could be anything! Depends on the chef or food truck during that particular Cycle. Check the online schedule for menus and details for each night of service.

Price point?

Depends on the rotating chef’s menu. Always expect prices as casual as our space!

Where’s the schedule of chefs/menus/food trucks?

Online at, or on twitter @CyclePhoenix and on

What are the hours?

Check the online schedule for featured meals, chefs and food trucks. First Friday, April 1 and Saturday April 2, Happy Hour from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm – Dining from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  Of course, the bar is open till 2:00 pm.

About the Lexington.

With construction beginning in Fall 2011, the Lexington Hotel will undergo a dramatic renovation, reopening in early 2012. The new hotel will become a cultural icon and hangout for Downtown Phoenix residents with dining, art galleries and events, also making it a world-class destination for travelers to “go where the locals go.”


Tim Sprague is Managing Member of Habitat Metro, LLC.  He is also member of the DVC Steering Committee.  Tim can be reached at

Downtown Phoenix’s First Pop Up Restaurant Coming Soon

[Source: Justin Lee, Downtown Phoenix Journal]

Mystery Solved: ‘Cycle’ Debuts April 1

DSC01045 Eat My Words | Mystery Solved: Cycle Debuts April 1

Now you see it, now you don’t.

After much guesswork, Phoenix’s first official pop-up restaurant is now on a certain path to life. Murmurs of the “mystery restaurant” have generated momentum since first officially reported here last week. Confirmed to the public this past weekend at the Devoured Culinary Classic, the puzzle is finally connecting.

Accurately labeled as Cycle, referring to both the temporary nature of the restaurant, as well as its planned, continuous rotation of notable guest chefs and bartenders, it will exist inside the Lexington Hotel’s current dining and bar space, at Central Avenue and Portland Street.

Inside the cavernous physical space exists an underestimated front-row seat to the spine of Central Phoenix and Downtown: Central Avenue. Wedged between the Downtown core and Midtown, just south of Deck Park and directly across the street from the Roosevelt light rail station, optimal geography and traffic — pedestrian, bicycle, rail and car — will be paramount to maintaining Cycle’s intended pulse.

Set to debut April 1, and “expire” (as playfully described) this July, as ambiguous as Cycle will arrive into the world, it will leave equally so.

Cycle will be an entirely new, almost improvisational concept to Phoenix. Unlike other, similar dining trends circulating (namely underground dinner clubs), pop-up restaurants are fully functioning enterprises that are anchored in one location, are completely open to the public and advertise predetermined shelf lives. Talented chefs, established and up-and-coming, will be allowed to flex their culinary skill and inspiration instantaneously to the public, with little restriction to creative whims.

Currently being fine-tuned, the space’s inaugural chef and concept will be announced in the coming week. In the meantime, the makeshift facelift of the physical space is already underway.

Cycle will operate at the hotel’s interim restaurant space through mid-summer, when the entire property — Cycle included — will shutter, heading into renovation hibernation. Under recent, ambitious new ownership, the Lexington Hotel is set for a dramatic, modern transformation. The new boutique hotel and its accompanying, permanent restaurant concept (unrelated to Cycle) will open subsequently sometime next year.

Cycle will be located at 1100 N. Central Ave.

Downtown Phoenix’s Lexington Hotel set to get face-lift

[Source: Megan Neighbor, The Arizona Republic]

New owners aim to lure arts crowd, high-end clients with boutique hotel

A new ownership group targeting a higher-end customer and the arts community plans to begin a $15 million to $20 million renovation of Central Phoenix’s Lexington Hotel by midsummer.

Among the myriad of upgrades: a first-floor art gallery accessible to both visitors and locals.

In early 2012, the property at 1100 N. Central Ave. will re-open as a non-branded boutique hotel and art gallery, said Tim Sprague, a principal at Habitat Metro, one of three development groups that purchased the hotel in January.

Habitat Metro principals Sprague, John Hill and Feliciano Vera will be joined by developers Bond HD LLC, a California-based hospitality group, and McKinney Capital Group LLC, a San Diego real-estate development and finance firm, in the revamping and re-branding of the property.

When complete, the Lexington will join the ranks of other boutique hotels in downtown and central Phoenix, including the Hotel San Carlos, the Clarendon Hotel and the new Westin Phoenix Downtown, which is slated to open in March.

The Lexington’s art gallery should set it apart, Sprague said.

In addition, the property’s face-lift likely will make the “new” Lexington hardly recognizable when compared with its former self. Even its name will change, Sprague said, although he did not say what the new name would be.

Renderings of the post-renovation property show an expanded ground floor where the art gallery will be located. That space will double as a meeting area, Sprague said.

To allow for the 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot expansion, the hotel’s existing porte-cochere, or vehicle entrance, will be enclosed. The Lexington’s existing restaurant will be redone and slightly expanded, and all its 108 rooms will undergo a full remodeling.

The finished product: a three- to four-star hotel with rates averaging between $175 and $200 per night, Sprague said.

That compares to the hotel’s lowest rate of $99 on Feb. 9, according to its website.

“We feel the downtown hospitality market is very ripe in terms of a unique niche arts hotel,” Sprague said. “And from our analysis, there’s a need for additional hotel rooms.”

Habitat Metro has had an interest in downtown for the past several years.

It developed Portland Place Condominiums, a 54-unit complex near the Lexington Hotel on West Portland Street and Central Avenue. A second phase of the condo project was slated to open in 2009 but was halted by the economic downturn. Development will continue when market conditions improve, Sprague said.

The Lexington is the first hotel project for the development group.

Habitat Metro and its partners purchased the property from NCA Hotel Partners LLC for $4.8 million on Jan. 19, documents from IonData show.

That was only about seven months after NCA Hotel Partners, the property’s lender, absorbed the hotel at a foreclosure auction, according to Sprague and filings at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.

NCA Hotel Partners was the property’s lender for only a short stint before the property went into foreclosure, Sprague said.

NCA partner Peter Gooding is one of several investors who will finance the Lexington’s renovation project, Sprague said.

Sprague said Habitat Metro would rely heavily on Robert Watson and Paul Guccini of Bond HD to re-brand the hotel and attract guests, he said. Watson and Guccini serve as the president and chief financial officer at Solage Hotels and Resorts, the ownership group of Solage Calistoga in California.

The Lexington’s face-lift will necessitate its temporary closure, starting sometime this summer.

Generating revenue can be tough for hoteliers whose properties aren’t branded, said Tom Silverman, the general manager at Chaparral Suites in Scottsdale.

Since 2000, Silverman’s hotel has been non-branded. From 1980 to 2000, it was part of the Embassy Suites Hotels franchise.

Being associated with a brand name for 20 years helped the hotel establish a base group of clientele, Silverman said.

To maintain that in recent years, Silverman has advertised more heavily. More meeting space was also added to attract business groups.

“When you are independent, you have to be good at everything because you are fighting the chain mentality,” he said.


Lexington Hotel

Location: 1100 N. Central Ave.

Phone: 602-252-2100.

Website: centralphoenixinn .com.

Opened: 1973.

Currently branded: Lexington Collection by Vantage.

Post-renovation branding: Independent (name not released).

Ed: Tim Sprague is the Vice President of the Downtown Voices Coalition.  He had no involvement in the posting of this article on the DVC site.

Fewer hotel bookings pose challenge in downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix Wyndham Hotel (soon to be Marriott)

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — The ongoing travel recession and, to some extent, city-built Sheraton in downtown Phoenix are putting pressure on central Phoenix hotels, some hotel owners say.  Tourists are traveling less and spending less, dampening the travel boom that hotel owners hoped would follow last year’s completion of the Phoenix Convention Center’s $600 million expansion.  Properties are responding in a variety of ways:

  • Last week, the Wyndham Phoenix Hotel asked for and received a 20-year tax discount from Phoenix that will save the hotel at 50 E. Adams St. $400,000 annually.  The deal will finish the hotel’s renovation and switch to the Marriott flag from Wyndham, which, the majority owner says, will drum up business.
  • The Lexington Hotel Central Phoenix, 1100 N. Central Ave., is open but is seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, court records show.
  • The Clarendon Hotel is starting a new promotion geared toward business travelers that will give hotel guests $20 cash for each night they stay there.

In the 14 months that it has been open, the 1,000-rooom Sheraton also has changed the market.  Phoenix built the hotel to accommodate larger conventions that were expected to meet there.  Although several groups, including the National Rifle Association, brought tens of thousands of new tourists to Phoenix, those bookings have tapered off.

Nationally, “distressed hotels are the way of the world right now because of the debt that they are carrying and because there is no business,” said Jeff Higley, a spokesman for Smith Travel Research.  “There are hotels that are struggling to meet payroll.”

The Phoenix market has been one of the hardest-hit travel markets in the nation.  From January though November, city hotel occupancy fell 12.6 percent and the average room rate tumbled 15 percent, compared with the same period in 2008.  A key barometer slid 26 percent in the city.  Revenue available per room is the amount of money generated per room excluding extras such as food and spa visits.  Only New York’s RevPar figure dropped more in that period.  It declined 28.1 percent, according to Smith Travel.  [Note: To read the full article, visit Fewer hotel bookings pose challenge in downtown Phoenix.]

Lexington Hotel opens in former downtown Phoenix Best Western

465_thumb_153028051The Lexington Collection of hotels, plaza hotels, and resorts worldwide has opened its first hotel in one of the nation’s top tourist destinations — Phoenix.  Located at 1100 N. Central in the former Best Western Hotel, the three-diamond Lexington Hotel offers a wide range of services and amenities for leisure and business travelers.   Guest rooms are equipped with free high-speed Internet access, cable satellite TV, and free long distance access.  The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast and is equipped with a business center, fitness room, and meeting and banquet space.  For more information, click here.