Hostel territory: The city has a new chance for budget lodging
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The word "hostel" calls to mind images of college students backpacking through Europe, crashing in dormitory-style rooms as they tour the world on the cheap. But that's not the complete picture.
Hostels recognized by Hostelling International also promise clean, inexpensive and safe lodging in 53 American cities, from the east to the west coast and many spots in between. A weekend night in New York City can be had for just $59. In Boston, a bed in a group room costs $46 and a private room and bath costs $170. There's even a hostel in Honolulu, although it isn't easy to get there on a limited budget.
Since 2005, though, Pittsburgh hasn't been on the itinerary of hostelers because that's when the Pittsburgh International Hostel in the city's Allentown neighborhood closed its doors.
Plans for a replacement recently were revived with a site on the South Side in mind. Developer Tom Tripoli owns a building at 14th and East Carson streets that houses the Beehive Coffeehouse, Rowdy Buck and Slacker. He's offering 10,000 square feet above those businesses, which will be remodeled to include 60 to 70 beds with nightly rental charges of $25 to $75.
A lot of work must happen before the doors can open to guests, however.
The Pittsburgh Hostel Project has started fund raising and its director, Anne Marie Toccket, said she will apply for assistance from Allegheny County, the state of Pennsylvania and local foundations to make the plan a reality. In addition, Mr. Tripoli says he's committing dollars to the project, with the intention of being paid back over time through rent he will charge the hostel. The project also must clear occupancy hurdles and deal with details such as parking.
The addition of a hostel in a convenient neighborhood, close to public transportation, should prove an ideal way for Pittsburgh to accommodate travelers on a budget, introducing the city to visitors from this country and throughout the world.
Here's hoping the plans can quickly move from drawing board to reality.
First Published July 31, 2012 12:00 am