The allure of owning an Airbnb rental has motivated a local businessman to snag a recently vacated Fan retail property — polar bear included.
The former Lunar Hippie building at 2528 W. Main St. was purchased last month by David Battiston, who owns salon and spa Stylepod at 3316 W. Cary St. in Carytown and nearby salon Imago at 2602 W. Main St.
Battiston bought the 1,900-square-foot building on Dec. 17 for $358,000, according to city property records.
He said he’s converting the downstairs retail space, which had been Lunar Hippie’s home until last summer, into a two-bedroom unit to be listed on Airbnb.
“It wasn’t my initial idea to (make it for Airbnb),” he said. “But when I found out the property is zoned for it, I thought it’d be a good choice. Initially I was going to put another massage practice in there.”
Also included in the deal is the large polar bear sculpture that sits in front of the building. It was left there by Lunar Hippie, which rescued it after a nearby HVAC company dumped it.
Battiston said the polar bear will stick around and he wants to incorporate it into the interior design of the rental unit.
“I know the polar bear has a following in town,” he said, laughing.
Airbnb’s website shows about 300 spaces available for rent throughout the Richmond region, the majority of which are inside city limits. Spaces listed in the Fan and Museum District on Airbnb rent for around $50 to $120 per night.
The building also has a two-bedroom apartment unit upstairs, which Battiston said he’ll look to rent out traditionally.
Johannas Design Group has been hired to design the Airbnb unit and Battiston said he’s currently seeking a contractor for the work.
Battiston opened Stylepod about five years ago. Two years later, he opened Carytown Massage, a tenant within Stylepod. Imago opened in 2010.
The intersection of Main and Robinson streets has seen a bit of churn lately.
Brunch opened this month at 2600 W. Main St. At the end of 2018, Black Swan Books closed at 2601 W. Main St., and a to-be-named specialty market has filed paperwork to open in the space.