by Dan Rafter
There are plenty of reasons why Le Méridien Columbus, The Joseph, the newest hotel in downtown Columbus, is a special place. But Joel Pizzuti, president of Columbus-based Pizzuti Cos., the developer behind the new arts hotel, points to the biggest factor of all: Not surprisingly, location trumps all.
The Joseph opened earlier this year in Columbus’ Short North neighborhood, the city’s trendiest arts and entertainment district. As Pizzuti says, the addition of a Class-A boutique hotel only strengthens this already bustling neighborhood.
“Short North is the heartbeat of our downtown,” Pizzuti told Midwest Real Estate News. “That is where the energy and activity is today. That is where people want to spend time. Location is still what matters for real estate. And this is the right location for this kind of hotel.”
The Joseph is unlike other hotels in downtown Columbus. It’s not that they city doesn’t boast high-end hotels. But The Joseph, at 620 N. High St., has a feel all its own.
The lobby features an impressive open design, with 40-foot-tall columns supporting it. The floors of this entrance area are made of Italian marble — marble that Pizzuti himself selected — and the walls feature contemporary art from the collection of Pizzuti Cos. chairman, chief executive officer and founder Ron Pizzuti.
Visitors to the hotel can even view 31 pieces of art created for The Joseph by 15 Ohio artists.
The Joseph, named after Ron Pizzuti’s father, stands 10 stories and brings 135 new hotel rooms to downtown Columbus.
The hotel is just part of a $68 million project that the Pizzuti Cos. is developing in the Short North neighborhood. This project includes a 60,000-square-foot office and retail building, a parking garage with 313 spaces and the Pizzuti Collection art museum.
The Joseph itself features the Guild House restaurant, the latest restaurant from professional chef Cameron Mitchell; a bar; four meeting rooms; a fitness center; and a pair of spa rooms. Staying at the hotel isn’t inexpensive: Standard rooms rent for $249 to $499 a night. The hotel’s 10 executive suites rent for $349 to $599 a night, while the Presidential Suite on the 10th floor, boasting 1,141 square feet of living space, rents for $1,600 a night.
Joel Pizzuti says that he expects The Joseph to enjoy a strong debut year. The time was right, he said, for Columbus to get its first boutique hotel.
“The economy is a lot better today. There is more business travel,” Pizzuti said. “There is more leisure travel returning. But the biggest reason why this was the right time for this hotel? Our city was ready for it. It had been ready for it for a while.”
Midwest cities are funneling money to boost their downtowns. Columbus is no exception. New restaurants, shops, parks and attractions are opening in the heart of this Ohio city, bringing shoppers, tourists and residents to the area.
“Our downtown is becoming a real focal point for the city,” Pizzuti said. “There’s a real resurgence going on downtown. We are a very vibrant community. The state capital is here. We have one of the largest universities in the country. Throw all that together, and you can see that there was a need for a hotel like this. A lot of factors came together at the right time.”