Broad Street Gets Hostel 

Art galleries and coffee shops are convincing signs of bohemian street cred, but to prove your town is truly hip, nothing beats a youth hostel.

Broad Street, already home to First Fridays and WRIR, Richmond's independent radio station, is moving that much closer to becoming the capital of cool now that a small group of hostel enthusiasts has secured the lease at 406 W. Broad St., the building with the green awning.

Faye Hager, a state government employee who has taken the lead on the project, says hosteling may be a little too bo-ho for some.

"Most people, when you tell them you're opening a 'hostel,' they think it's a 'hospital,'" Hager says.

Far from it. Known for the sometimes questionable hygiene of their tenants, hostels are inexpensive overnight accommodations, often featuring bunkbeds and common sleeping rooms, favored by low-budget travelers in Europe. Rooms typically run in the $20 to $30 range.

"We want to bring this international flavor to Richmond," Hager says, "and we think we can bring people down from Baltimore and D.C. and make it a gateway to the South."

Baltimore opened a hostel in July 2007 and Washington, D.C., has had one since the mid-1980s.

Mark Schneider, general manager of the D.C. hostel, says the broader the hosteling network, the better for everyone involved.

"I'm just glad to see hosteling expanding because I think it's great for people to be able to travel inexpensively," Schneider says.

Kathy Emerson, director of Quirk Gallery, right across Broad Street from the future hostel, says the proximity of the building to Virginia Commonwealth University is a good fit. She occasionally brings in international artists for shows and thinks they "would like the social climate of the hostel."

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