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Airbnb Concept Comes to Peoria’s Warehouse District

Steve Tarter

While the nation’s hotel industry suffered during the pandemic, a young entrepreneur from Seattle was launching her own Airbnb operation in Peoria’s Warehouse District.

Tia Bailey, 29, who runs a short-term management company in her native Seattle, has leased the building at 725 SW Washington St., across the street from the Thyme restaurant, from developer Larry Winkler, whose building of loft apartments is located next door.

Lofties Spaces and Events offers 32 rentable Airbnb short-term rentals along with multiple commercial spaces, said Bailey.

“Think of it as five different businesses under one roof,” she said, noting that a coffee shop and event center should be open at the location in the next couple of months.

“We’ve only been in operation for about five months,” said Bailey, adding that business has been brisk—despite the pandemic.

“Peoria tends to be a very good travel city,” she said. While some of her customers rent rooms for three to four days on average, a third stay longer—from two weeks to two months, said Bailey.

The Airbnb concept was not nearly as well developed as in Seattle when Bailey first visited Peoria in November 2019 at the request of a local Airbnb operator who sought her advice.

While here, Bailey said she saw the potential in Peoria for the Airbnb concept. “There’s a huge push by the newer generation that’s gotten into Uber and Lyft,” she said, referring to the ride-sharing services now so prevalent.

“Everything is turning into a different type of travel, a different type of transportation. Hotels and taxis are becoming old school, even retro,” said Bailey, who calls the alternative she offers “cheaper and cooler.”

A studio rental costs from $65 to $75 a night at Lofties, far less than a hotel room would cost, she said. “Plus you have a full kitchen to use,” said Bailey.

Michael Freilinger, executive director of the Downtown Development Corp., said the addition of Airbnb to the Downtown has been a pleasant surprise. “Tia’s a young entrepreneur who knows how to be a guest host. Once she saw the Warehouse District, she just fell in love with it,” he said.

“Larry (Winkler) was in the process of remodeling the building as Winkler Place and Winkler Market but he was thrilled to lease the space to Tia,” said Freilinger, who lauded Bailey’s approach.

“She likes to cross-market with other businesses. The woman knows what she’s doing,” he said.

Freilinger also finds Bailey’s view of Peoria refreshing. “She can see things from an outsider’s perspective,” he said.

Bailey said Peoria reminds her of Seattle “before it got crazy.” “Where else can you get a 100-000 square-foot building for $1 million? In Seattle, a two-bedroom house sells for that,” she said.

Bailey wants to explore Peoria even further. “I want to meet everybody in town. I want to help my travelers get inside their doors—and vice versa,” she said.

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