Short-term rental startups swap control of hotel within Riverfront Park complex

AMLI Riverfront Green is an apartment complex in Riverfront Park. (BizDen file photo)

In Riverfront Park, one short-term rental startup is out and another has moved in.

Austin-based The Guild, which leased 44 units within the AMLI Riverfront Green apartment complex at 1750 Little Raven St., has opted to exit the Denver market. San Francisco-based Kasa is taking over control of the units, the heads of both companies confirmed.

“Following COVID-19, we reduced our number of locations, and unfortunately we were not able to include Denver in our post COVID-19 portfolio,” The Guild co-founder Brian Carrico said in an email, adding the company could return to the market.

Both The Guild and Kasa — along with other competitors, such as Mint House and Sonder — lay claim to large blocks of apartments, and then rent them out to those desiring an Airbnb-like experience for as little as one night. They’re not subject to the “primary residence” requirement for a short-term rental license in Denver because they apply for a different license, the same one a hotel would get.

Another competitor, Stay Alfred, said last month it was shutting down.

Kasa founder and CEO Roman Pedan, 31, started the company in 2016 and said it now operates in over 50 buildings in about 40 cities.

Kasa did not have a presence in Denver prior to striking the deal with The Guild, which Pedan said came about in part because Kasa operates in other buildings owned by AMLI Residential, a major multifamily firm.

“It was a market we were hoping to enter,” he said.

Kasa also is taking over two of The Guild’s locations in Austin, Pedan said.

Pedan said his company differs from some competitors in that it typically doesn’t sign leases with landlords, but rather negotiates a management agreement where the landlord pays a service fee and gets a cut of the short-term rental income.

The deal with AMLI and The Guild will close in the next month or two, Pedan said. But customers already can book through Kasa’s website. Rates start at $149 a night.

Forty-one of the units are rented for as little as a night, while three are rented for stays of at least 30 days.

In an effort to make sure Kasa guests don’t clash with long-term residents within an apartment complex, units feature sensors that measure decibels, and detect cigarette and marijuana smoke. Long-term residents get discounts to use on Kasa if they have guests or are traveling to another city.

“We care about tenant trust and the community trust,” Pedan said.

While some competitors such as Sonder and Stay Alfred have multiple locations in Denver, Pedan said Kasa is not currently scouting other spots locally.

“We want to see how this works,” he said.

As the coronavirus pandemic took hold, Pedan said the company shifted focus to encouraging longer-term stays, and its average booking rose to about 15 days from the usual five to seven.

Speaking June 9, he said occupancy across the company’s portfolio the previous night had been 65 percent, whereas it would normally be in the 70 to 80 percent range. It bottomed out during the pandemic around 35 percent, he said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect age for Roman Pedan. The number of locations the company is taking over in Austin has also been updated.

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