The vintage video game company announced on January 24 that it has struck a licensing agreement with True North Studio and GSD Group for a branded hotel in Phoenix, one of eight Atari hotels planned across the United States.
True North Studio is a commercial real estate development firm with a significant footprint in downtown Phoenix. It keeps offices at the monOrchid building in Roosevelt Row, and its portfolio includes the Cambria Hotel, among others.
Atari, founded in 1972, is best known for its video game products, though today the company has grown into a global interactive entertainment and multiplatform licensing group. Under this licensing agreement, Atari will be entitled to 5 percent of hotel revenues.
The design and development of the hotel is being led by GSD Group founder Shelly Murphy and partner Napoleon Smith III, who first discussed the idea in late September.
"We reached out to Atari CEO Fred Chesnais, who'd already had some thoughts about Atari hotels," Murphy tells Phoenix New Times.
They then looped in Jonathon Vento, who heads True North Studio. He's working on a mixed-use development called Ten-O-One at 1001 North Central Avenue, where future tenants will include the GSD Group.
Current plans call for breaking ground on the hotel in 2020. Where, exactly?
"The hotel will be near Central and Roosevelt," Murphy says.
But she declined to name a specific address, as did a representative for True North Studio.
A rendering provided by True North Studio appears to show the hotel situated next to the parking structure just east of the Ten-O-One building, but Murphy won't confirm that's the actual location. "The rendering is only an initial plan," she says.
The Atarti hotels, which intend to target family and business travelers, will have a common area “with a focus on the video game universe and the Atari brand,” according to the announcement.
The overall plan calls for several additional elements, including eSport studios, Atari gaming playgrounds, co-working spaces, restaurants, bars, bakeries, meeting rooms, event rooms, movie theaters, and gyms. Developers plan to incorporate both virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.
Murphy expects the Phoenix site to include each of these amenities, along with additional design features. "We have some amazing teams in architecture and design," she says. "Some local artists will be involved, but we won't be releasing those names for another 30 days or so."
Developers have not announced their target date for opening the Atari hotel in Phoenix, but Murphy expects it will take 18 to 24 months to complete.
Additional hotels are planned for Austin, Texas; Chicago; Denver; Las Vegas; San Francisco; San Jose, California; and Seattle. "The hotels will be scaled according to the locations," Murphy says. That means the Las Vegas property could have 2,000 rooms, whereas the Phoenix location will likely have just 200. The amenities may vary by location, as well.
The Atari hotel isn't the only themed hotel planned for Phoenix. In February 2019, the Santa Fe-based arts and entertainment group Meow Wolf announced that it had partnered with True North Studio to build its first hotel. But neither Meow Wolf nor True North Studio have announced specific plans for that project since.
New Times will update this story as additional details become available.