The Lewis Building, home to the Commodore Hotel and Street 14 Cafe, has been sold to developer Joe Barnes, who has brought in global hotel and hostel company Selina to manage the lodging.
Barnes and his wife, Jennelle, recently purchased the building from partners Paul Caruana, Brian Faherty and Lance Marrs for over $1.8 million. Selina leased the 18-room Commodore Hotel and is developing a 2,000-square-foot bar and social area downstairs with his help, Barnes said.
Selina, started in Panama in 2014, is a quickly growing chain of more than 50 hotels, hostels and coworking spaces throughout Latin America and Europe. The company is backed by venture capital and valued at $850 million, according to trade publication Hotel Management.
Selina plans to have more than 400 locations by 2023, according to the company’s blog.
“The Commodore just fits their exact profile,” Barnes said.
Micha Cameron-Lattek, co-owner of Street 14 with his wife, Jennifer, said the new ownership does not affect his lease in the Lewis Building, which runs through 2027.
“We look forward to continuing a neighborly collaboration with the incoming hotel,” he said in an email.
Selina had originally reached out about turning the Osburn-O’Brien Building that Barnes owns kitty-corner to the Lewis Building into a restaurant and hotel, but city rules would not allow it, Barnes said. “I think it’s a real tribute to Astoria,” he said of Selina’s interest. “Whether people of Astoria like it or not, Astoria is a real great place for people to come.”
Michael Tour, the director of business development for Selina, said the company plans to rebrand the Commodore the Selina Commodore in the spring, while simultaneously opening the underground speakeasy in the basement. The company also envisions 50 luxury camping spots and a wellness retreat at an undisclosed location in Warrenton.
"For every two or three urban locations, we want to have kind of a bohemian and remote destination," Tour said.
The Astoria location will be the second Selina-branded property in the U.S. after New York City, Tour said. The company hopes to open properties along the Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Diego.
The Lewis Building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by Astoria architect John E. Wicks and built in 1925 after a fire gutted much of downtown three years earlier. The hotel first opened as the Barton Inn in 1925 and changed to the Commodore Hotel in 1928, closing in 1964.
Caruana and his partners purchased the building for $565,000 in 2007 and invested around $1.5 million in renovations, reopening the Commodore Hotel in 2009. They listed the building in 2017 for $2.3 million. Caruana said it seemed like the right time to sell and bring in a hotel management company like Selina that can cast a wider net.
“I think it will be great for Astoria,” he said. “They will provide a fresh perspective to the building.”