Blog Archives

Work Begins on Grand Ave’s Oasis Hotel

[Source: Benjamin Leatherman, PNT’s Jackalope Ranch]

Soon-to-Be Artist-Friendly Apartment Complex

oasis hotel on grand.JPG

Photo by Benjamin Leatherman

​The old Oasis Hotel on Grand Avenue is getting a major makeover.

The permits and plans for renovation on the vacant motor lodge, at Roosevelt Street near Trunk Space and the Bikini Lounge, has been an ongoing battle for developers and architects. But work started on the lodge’s balconies last week, and plans for the currently seedy property include a hip apartment complex called Oasis on Grand.

Real estate developer Timothy Sprague (also behind Portland Place Condominiums) and his firm Habitat Metro are behind the $5 million project, which will create 60 affordable live-work spaces for artists and creative types.

Oasis on Grand will be similar, in most respects, to Holgas. Plans include a variety of studio and one-bedroom apartments that will function as both studio-galleries and living spaces. According to Sprague, the spaces will rent for $400 to $700, and more than a dozen of the ground-level apartments along Roosevelt Street can function as galleries open to the public.
“What we envision is that the artists on the bottom floor can turn their living rooms into personal studio-galleries,” he says. “I love the idea of seeing a bunch of new galleries opening along Roosevelt open every First Friday.”

caravan inn west.jpg

The Oasis Hotel during its days as The Caravan Inn West in the 1960s.hmdavid on Flickr

Sprague says the remodeling will take approximately six to eight months to complete, with a grand opening happening sometime in the late fall.

​The Oasis began life as the Caravan Inn West in 1960, one of the many colorful motor hotels that sprung up along Grand Avenue when the thoroughfare was the primary route for motorists to get from Phoenix to Los Angeles or Las Vegas.

It later reopened as the Oasis Hotel in 1971, but fell into serious decline over the next four decades, becoming something a seedy flophouse before closing down in 2007.

Sprague says that several “common area” spaces at the new Oasis will serve as a community-oriented studio and gallery, and there will also be tree-lined courtyard area for special events.

The adjacent Grand Corral restaurant and lounge will also be remodeled simultaneously, although it’s currently undecided whether the building will function as an eatery or bar.

Sadly, there are no plans to excavate the old swimming pool that dates back to the property’s days as the Caravan Inn West and has since became a parking lot.

“Sorry to say, the swimming pool will stay a thing of the past.”

NOTE: Tim is a member of the DVC Steering Comittee.


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 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.

Grand Avenue proponents map out possible future

Birdseye view of Grand Avenue, Phoenix, AZOn June 12, 2008, a “visioning” session was organized by the Grand Avenue Merchants Association (GAMA). Facilitating the event was Dale Erquiaga, who also donated his time to help GAMA craft a long term vision for Grand Avenue and vicinity.  Participants, listed below, included current business owners, residents, property owners, potential future property owners, and District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski and staff.

  • Effie Bouras, Architect
  • Pat Clegg, Owner ACC Machinery
  • Tim Eigo, Capitol Weed and Seed Coalition, Downtown Voices Coalition, and resident
  • Dale Erquiaga, Facilitator
  • Ruben Gallegos, Council Staff
  • Richard Gordon, Owner Bikini Cocktails
  • Bob Graham, Owner Motley Design Group
  • Roberta Graham, Owner Motley Design Group
  • Eric Gudino, ASU, Downtown Phoenix Campus Liaison
  • Kyle Jordre, Jordre Studio Owner and resident
  • Beatrice Moore, Property Owner and resident
  • Michael Nowakowski, Councilman District 7
  • Joe Murphy, Council Staff
  • Mark Richmond, Mark Richmond Development
  • Tim Sprague, Habitat Metro, LLC
  • Gina Suarez, Owner Paisley Violin and resident
  • Amina Uben, Owner Chez Nous
  • Feliciana Vera, Habitat Metro, LLC
  • Robin, Becky, and Mina Vining, residents
  • Nathan Ward, Resident
  • Tony Zahn, Property owner and resident

Below are comments made by participants when asked various questions by Dale (who condensed and transcribed information on large sheets of paper), or when individuals divided up into smaller groups, collaborated on language and descriptions, and reported back to the full group:

“Why I am living/working/playing on Grand Avenue?”

  • Affordable with potential for existing development
  • All the space we needed
  • Authentic
  • Authenticity
  • Best place to buy a new home, raise a family and still be part of the art and all that’s going on
  • Can do something here; get my hands dirty
  • Caring, loving, unique; compared to the myths of gangs, dangerous, etc.
  • Close to work
  • Community, character, diversity
  • Different
  • Diverse, interesting
  • Feels like a city, a little bit of a mess
  • “Free” independent community I want to be part of
  • Grew up here; it’s home
  • Has character and is full of “characters”
  • Has potential
  • I like having skyscrapers for neighbors
  • “It” felt right
  • Live and work
  • Opportunity
  • Opportunity & potential
  • Place where you can be surprised
  • “Real City” feel
  • Safe
  • Unique environment within Phoenix
  • Vitality like a real city
  • Walkable/sustainable

“What makes a great neighborhood?”

  • Accessibility (parking, walkable, jaywalking; we need to bend the rules a little)
  • Affordable
  • Atmosphere/aura included
  • Chaotic, unfinished, sense of potential
  • Cohesion
  • Daytime activity = housing, people, occupants (affordable)
  • Diversity in cultural and economic uses
  • Events
  • Feelin’ Groovy, comfy, welcome
  • Inclusive/complete; what you need is there
  • Integration/connectivity to outside physical universe
  • Mix of live/work/play – potential
  • Nature; Not pre-fab (Indoor/outdoor living)
  • Re-use (adaptive)/historic
  • Sense of community
  • Sense of difference
  • Sense of purpose
  • Sense of timelessness
  • Sustainable design

At the end of the two-hour session, participants summarized statements that best defined the thoughts generated throughout the evening, and best described the neighborhood everyone wanted to live, work, and play in: 

  • “Grand Avenue can be a diverse, sustainable urban boulevard and a funky cultural community and destination, without gentrification.”
  • “Grand Avenue can be a vital place/destination for economic and cultural diversity with chaotic character filled with small businesses providing self sufficiency for a neighborhood; plus, a diffusion of people from the main avenue into the neighborhood to experience exciting niches — parks, Laundromats, restaurants, etc.”

For more information about GAMA or “next steps” in the strategic planning process, contact Beatrice Moore at 602-391-4016.