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Moxy Momentum: Officials expect new downtown hotel will open within a month

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A hotel project several years in the making is nearing a conclusion in downtown Springfield.

The newest entry in Marriott International Inc.’s (Nasdaq: MAR) Moxy Hotels brand, Moxy Springfield Downtown, is expected to open by late April or early May, according to hotel officials. The eight-story, 98-room hotel will be the first Moxy to launch in Missouri, said Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC.

Construction crews are active on all floors of the 430 South Ave. structure as the project comes down to the final few weeks, O’Reilly said. Work on the 52,000-square-foot building, which was built in 1930, has included retaining elements of its original design, such as limestone flooring and travertine walls. Infill activity, which included demolition of most of the interior walls and ceilings of the building in preparation for a complete reconstruction, began in late 2021.

O’Reilly Build LLC is general contractor for the project designed by Buxton Kubik Dodd Design Collective.

The plan to bring a new hotel downtown originated in 2017 when O’Reilly, through South Street Partners LLC, purchased the building for an undisclosed amount from G&S Holdings LLC. The property most recently housed the downtown branch of Great Southern Bank.

“It’s been good,” O’Reilly said of construction during a recent property tour with Springfield Business Journal. “We’ve had a couple of delays here and there. Anytime you redo a historic building, you’re going to get surprises in the plans.”

O’Reilly signed a franchise agreement with Marriott in 2018 after being impressed with the Moxy concept, which the company launched in 2013. Marriott has opened 150 Moxy locations worldwide, including 41 in North America, according to its website.

Moxy Springfield Downtown General Manager Jan Vanco said the Springfield Moxy will be the first in the region to open.

“Memphis is the closest,” he said. “There’s one in development that was just agreed upon in Fayetteville, [Arkansas].”

O’Reilly added his company is developing another Moxy in Kansas City, which is currently in the design phase.

“It’s on rapid expansion, and they’re planning to double the volume in the next couple of years,” Vanco said of Marriott’s plans. “Moxy is definitely one of the main focus brands.”

Vanco’s employment at the Moxy marks his first work experience in Springfield since he graduated from Missouri State University in 2002. With roughly 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Vanco previously worked at several hotels, including Marriott ventures in Texas, La Meridien Houston Downtown and Marriott DFW Airport South.

He said the hotel will hire roughly 50-60 employees. Upon opening, the Moxy, which has its own parking lot, will join other downtown hotels such as Hotel Vandivort, Tru by Hilton and University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center.

Sense of community
Aside from offering king, double queen and bunk bed rooms, the Moxy includes The Eyrie, a 3,300-square-foot rooftop bar and restaurant, a first-floor bar that doubles as the check-in area, and a basement with over 1,800 square feet for meetings and events that also will house a food and beverage concept called The Subterranean.

O’Reilly said The Eyrie and The Subterranean are not Marriott-affiliated concepts, adding both will be run by O’Reilly Hospitality Management. He declined to disclose his company’s investment in the project.

The room sizes generally range 250-400 square feet, according to officials. The Moxy website’s reservation calendar shows rooms available for rent beginning in June, with prices ranging $156-$197 per night. However, Vanco said the online calendar will be adjusted once the hotel’s opening date is finalized.

“A lot of the focus is on common spaces for the guests as well as for locals to create that sense of community and togetherness,” Vanco said.

O’Reilly agreed, noting the rooms are a little smaller than what you might find in most hotels.

“The common areas are the place to be. That’s what we hope everybody embraces because that’s what Moxy is,” he said. “Bring your laptop and do your work down in the lobby and have a drink and something to eat.”

Newly installed furniture wraps around one of the walls in the bar and check-in area, which also will operate as a coffee spot in the daytime. O’Reilly said Echelon Coffee LLC, which leases shop space from O’Reilly Hospitality Management at 2407 N. Glenstone Ave., will provide the coffee.

Signage in the bar tells visitors to “Let the adventure begin,” which O’Reilly said is a general theme at the Moxy.

“This is the meeting place to jump off into exploring the Ozarks. That felt good to Marriott, and they loved a sense of place, kind of fused in with what we’re doing,” he said, pointing to an art fixture hanging from the ceiling shaped like an upside-down canoe. “We love the interior. Juli Russell is our interior designer, and she’s just fantastic. She’s done several of our nicest hotels around the country.”

Some of the design incorporates the O’Reilly family’s love of biking via a mural of bikes coming out of one of the walls, while other elements include nods to country rock band The Ozark Mountain Daredevils, which originated in Springfield. Images of the band will be in the elevator, while a lyric excerpt from one of their songs is on signage in the lobby.

Above and below
Food and beverage will be handled by Matt Hales, an executive chef with O’Reilly Hospitality Management.

“He is an extremely creative guy, and he’s agreed to take on the challenge of being the main chef here for a period of time while we get up and running,” O’Reilly said. “Our (food and beverage) is going to be sophisticated yet dialed into what people really want. It’s not going to be an extravagant three-course meal experience on the roof. It’s going to be a lot of nice hors d’oeuvres and small plates.”

The Eyrie, which is defined as a large nest for a bird of prey, is expected to be open several nights a week. While O’Reilly noted a desire to occasionally have falconry flying demonstrations on the roof, he said there’s no schedule for when those will be offered.

“With Matt’s capabilities and creativity, it’s definitely going to be a changing menu pretty frequently, but it’s going to be a lot of shareables and really to generate the communal feeling between people and to share the views, share the food with great cocktails,” Vanco said.

There will be a bird theme to menu items, such as Flying Fig Flatbread, Soarin’ Bao Buns and The Talon Mojito. Drink rails are positioned along the rooftop to allow customers to take in an expansive view of downtown.

“We’ll be creative with that space, too,” O’Reilly said. “We’ll be having sunrise yoga up here when the weather’s nice and all sorts of fun little stuff.”

Across a basement hallway from the fitness center is The Subterranean, which O’Reilly refers to as a “barbecue and jazz dive.” The venue, which officials say has a speakeasy vibe, will intermittently be open for food and jazz music acts, as well as private parties, meetings and social events.

“It kind of has a couple different alter egos,” O’Reilly said.

Vanco said the venue won’t have standard operating hours.

“It’ll be very much driven by social media, reservations and notifications,” he said.

Nearly two years of the delay to start construction on the Moxy project was attributed to waiting on historic tax credit approval through the National Parks Service and the state of Missouri, O’Reilly said, declining to disclose the total. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival further hampered efforts to keep the project moving forward.

Amid the long wait to reach this point, O’Reilly said he’s remained confident in the team his company’s assembled.

“I knew it was going to happen. Once you’re invested and have a loan and put a bunch of equity in, there’s no turning back. You can’t just not open,” he said. “It’s really cool breathing life back into this building. There was not much going on here when we bought it.”


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