The Peabody is bringing its almost 150-year history and famous marching ducks to the Denton County city of Roanoke as the anchor of the South Oak Street redevelopment.
Several elements led to the Peabody choosing Roanoke for its Texas outpost.
After several due diligence visits to the area, Craig Smith, vice president of brand development for Peabody Hotels & Resorts, says a few compelling factors became clear, including: Alliance Corporate Park as a significant demand driver for rooms and events, the area’s household income supported a luxury hotel, and the specific area was underserved within the upper upscale hotel market.
“We also came to understand the brilliance of the city of Roanoke in the care they took in developing their downtown area in a very strategic way,” Smith says.
“The Peabody is known throughout the world because of its history, its reputation for impeccable service and, of course, the ducks.”
The value of planning
Peabody’s final factor in choosing its Texas location—the strategic development of Roanoke’s downtown—can be traced to 2004. At that time, a number of players in the city began the process of creating an Oak Street redevelopment plan and rezoning with that process going into action in 2007.
The idea was to reinvent the city center, says Scott Polikov, president of Gateway Planning Group, the lead master-planning firm for Oak Street and economic development consultant. At the time, the street had a sawtooth layout with no coherent way to navigate the shops.
The city’s redevelopment accomplished three things, Polikov says. Oak Street was redesigned to make it walkable—it was rezoned to make it easy for infill development that would enhance a “destination feel,” and the city spent $8 million in 2007 to achieve the goal—something the individual property owners couldn’t have done on their own.
The result was a reinvented public frontage that gave private businesses a look as though they were owned and controlled by a single entity.
300 guest rooms
25,000 SF of meeting space
15,000 SF of rooftop fitness
5 ducks in the lobby bar
400 hotel employees
“The city essentially acted as the overall developer by doing those three things. So now, Roanoke functions as if it’s a single owner without having to have a single owner,” Polikov says.
The big picture was raising value in the Oak Street area, which would then increase rents and revenue for the city while letting the area grow organically. Polikov says the redevelopment deliberately zoned the spot where the Peabody will be located to be a “significant development,” and the city didn’t want to prematurely deploy development for what would eventually become the “exclamation point” of Oak Street.
“We didn’t know exactly what we were going to get—we knew it was going to possibly be a hotel, possibly office/mixed use, possibly more retail,” Polikov says.
He says The Peabody project was a “perfect storm” with the hotelier looking for a major metro location with authentic historic credentials, and Roanoke teeing up a well-designed street infrastructure through its Oak Street redevelopment.
When a brand fits a city
“The Peabody brand is much bigger than one hotel or even a few hotels,” Smith says. “The Peabody is known throughout the world because of its history, its reputation for impeccable service and, of course, the ducks.”
He added the Peabody brand resonates across a range of audiences and demographics, from leisure guests to business travelers of all ages. Smith also mentions the hotel industry trend of travelers looking for more of an experience, than just a place to lay their head.
“They want to make memories and have Instagrammable moments. The Peabody Memphis offers history, charm and a sense of place, and we’re looking to bring some of that character to Texas with The Peabody Roanoke,” Smith says.
Another aspect of the flagship Peabody Memphis it is looking to re-create at the Peabody Roanoke is making the hotel a destination. Smith points to the Lobby Bar in Memphis as a decades-long gathering place, and that people come to the hotel specifically for the twice-daily Duck March or just to “people watch,” meet with colleagues, or have a drink with friends.
Tech finds a way
The Peabody brand’s history may date back to 1869, but it keeps a close eye on technology trends and how they might offer Peabody guests a more personable experience, Smith says. A focal point is investing in networking infrastructure to offer guests superior internet speeds as well as the ability to scale as tech changes and demand increases.
Some the tech The Peabody is looking at incorporating into its operations and guest experience includes: energy management, Bluetooth-enabled door locks, a Peabody App with concierge service and issue resolution, and a bring-your-own-content solution for in-room entertainment that will allow guests to stream content from their personal device to the TV screen.
“We’re keeping a close eye on the ever-changing needs of guests and what might be a technology necessity in the future—it’s always a moving target,” Smith says.
While The Peabody continues to look toward the future through inculpating technology, Smith says the Peabody Roanoke will include certain unique trademarks that appear in every Peabody hotel, such as a large Lobby Bar, a rooftop bar for parties, its Feathers Spa, and “of course, the Peabody Ducks and everything that comes with them, such as a marble fountain at the center of the lobby, a ‘Duck Palace’ on the rooftop, and the twice-daily Duck March event.
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