Monday, January 25, 2010

Hamilton's Aloft Hotel downtown is running strong, even if the signs aren't

On the way into City Hall this week, I got a jolt when I saw the signs for Larry and Ted Hamilton's new Aloft Hotel had been all covered up.

My first thought was, uh-oh, if this can't make it downtown then the whole idea of resurgence just took a big step backward.

The hotel is steps from the Dallas Convention Center, and the city pledged $4.2 million in TIF dollars over 7 years to help boost its success.

The Hamiltons completely restored the building and partnered with a proven operator in W Hotels to run the place.

Failure would have called everything into question.

But Ted Hamilton reports that far from being in trouble, the hotel at 1033 Young St. had a much stronger December than projected.

The cast and crew for the musical of 101 Dalmations made it their home while they were in town and on New Year's Eve the Aloft was all sold out, he said.

"We were almost double our projections. We're projecting 2010 to basically be a successful year," Ted Hamilton said.

So what the what with covering up the signs?

It seems that after all was said and done and the hotel opened its doors, the city determined the signs didn't conform to code. The lower sign is too close to the property line and too big. The upper sign projects off the top of the building when it should be entirely attached.

So for the next six months or so, while the Hamiltons work to get a variance, the Aloft's signs will be covered over in more or less transparent plastic tarps.

But the doors will be very much open.