A Spokane Valley-based short-term rental company with nearly 250 employees is permanently closing as a result of financial struggles caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Stay Alfred, which has been temporarily closed since March, was working with investors to raise a round of funding to keep the company afloat, but investors rescinded the offer.
“They ended up pulling the funding at the last minute, and we had no anticipation that funding wasn’t going to be coming in, and it kind of took the company down,” Jordan Allen, CEO of Stay Alfred, said Wednesday.
Prior to COVID-19, Stay Alfred had more than 230 employees and was on track to generate $100 million in revenue this year, Allen said.
The company, which became known for popularizing the concept of upscale travel apartment rentals in walkable locations, had operated more than 2,200 units in 32 markets across the country, including 15 units at The M Apartments in the former Macy’s building at 612 W. Main St.
The rentals were a part of a partnership with The M’s owner, Centennial Properties, a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review.
Allen founded the company in 2011 after a trip to Denver with his brother to see a Colorado Rockies baseball game. While there, they stayed in a high-end apartment rental within walking distance of downtown and other amenities.
The one-time darling of the area startup community, the company launched in a 300-square-foot office in downtown Spokane with three employees and ultimately expanded to a 45,000-square-foot campus in Spokane Valley in 2018. That same year, it raised $47 million in funding from Nine Four Ventures, a Chicago-based real estate company.
Allen was named an EY Entrepreneur of the Year in the Pacific Northwest region in the consumer service category in 2019 by Ernst & Young, a professional services firm. Stay Alfred was selected as one of 100 of the fastest-growing veteran-owned businesses nationwide by Inc. magazine in March.
Stay Alfred is currently liquidating assets, including its Spokane Valley headquarters, which has generated interest from companies looking to relocate from larger metro areas, Allen said.
After the company closed as a result of the pandemic, several customers lodged complaints via social media about its cancellation and rebooking policy amid the coronavirus outbreak. A point of contention among customers was that they weren’t receiving refunds for canceled reservations.
The company is assisting customers with transferring their existing reservations to other short-term rental providers. It also is working to sell some of its assets, with the funds to go toward guest refunds, Allen said.
Allen said it’s heartbreaking the company is closing, but he’s thankful to have worked with a great team.
“We are so thankful for everything the community has done to support us, and we wish we had done a better job of winding everything down,” he said. “I’m really proud of our team and what we were able to accomplish. If COVID-19 hadn’t happened, we would have been able to create a global hospitality brand.”
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