Salem Motor Lofts opening as short-term rentals instead of apartments

SALEM, Va. – From sports events to Roanoke College visitors, the city of Salem has expressed a need for more downtown lodging. Now, one of the city's most historic buildings will fulfill that need.

From floor to ceiling, the Salem Motor Lofts have revived a piece of history on the city's Main Street.
Originally slated to be rented as apartments, the new units will now be short-term rentals, advertised on websites like Airbnb. 

"We hope that going in this direction will make it even more of a public space and a public amenity," said Brent Cochran, a developer with Salem Motor Lofts. 

Cochran says changing the plan for these 18 fully-furnished lofts was rooted in community feedback during open houses and the city's master plan. 

"We listened to what they had to say and took those words to heart and did the best we can to try to recreate something that is going to be great in terms of Salem's vibe," said Cochran. 

The original purchase agreement between the city and developers required a minimum of 10 residential units in the building. But on Monday, city council approved an amendment allowing for hotel-style lodging. The city manager says it was an easy decision because while they support downtown living, downtown short-term rentals can boost meals, lodging and sales taxes. 

"It really is a win-win. I think hopefully for the developers, who will make a good return on their investment with hotel rooms, and then certainly on the city revenue side, we'll do better than apartments," said Kevin Boggess, Salem city manager. 

The lofts will cost about $100 a night.