NEW YORK, NY, (March 25, 2019) – nypost.com/ – It took seven years for the Times Square Edition hotel to open at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 47th Street after the project was announced in 2012.
But Maefield Development, Fortress Investment, Marriott International and Edition-brand creator Ian Schrager hit the sweet spot after a “Grand Hotel”-worthy saga of construction delays, refinancings and partnership changes.
The 42-story, 452-room luxury inn officially opened on March 12, just in time to catch the wave of a Manhattan hotel market that’s cresting after a lull.
Although the Edition’s rooms are opening in stages, occupancy is close to 96 percent in the ones that are available, Schrager said.
“Rooms are full, all restaurants at capacity, and the [cabaret venue] Paradise Club is sold out and killing it,” he said.
Cushman & Wakefield hotel specialist Tom McConnell said, “If they opened two years ago, they would have stepped into a spongy market. Today, they’d probably get 96 percent even if it was all the rooms.”
Maefield declined to comment. Studio 54 co-creator Schrager, who isn’t known for understatement, said, “The bustling, energized and naughty, haughty chaos of Times Square and the pristine, sophisticated, elegant and refined experience of the Edition are two opposites that attract each other and together create a new and magical third zone where the diversity of the people from the two different extremes, like Studio 54, will create a tsunami. It’s what made Studio so special and will do the same for Times Square.”
Manhattan’s hotel market dipped a few years ago because of too many new rooms added and the Airbnb effect.
But according to the trusted PwC Manhattan lodging index, borough-wide revenue per available room — the industry benchmark for hotel performance known as RevPAR — soared to $328 in the fourth quarter of 2018, the highest average for the quarter since 2006.
The fourth-quarter occupancy rate of 89.9 percent bolstered the highest annual occupancy rate in over 24 years, PwC said.
Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins calls the Edition “a culmination in the development of a Times Square hotel market as one offering a greater range of offerings.”
Hotel rooms in the “bowtie” rose from fewer than 16,000 in 2009 to more than 18,500 in 2019, according to the Alliance. Yet, Times Square occupancy for 2018 averaged almost 92 percent, compared with 88 percent in Manhattan overall.
CBRE senior vice-president and hotel specialist Bradley Burwell said that while most Times Square hotels are four-star, the Edition “aims for five-star. There’s definitely a need for it in the area.” He predicted, “I’d say they hope to achieve an average daily rate well over $500 a night.”
The Big Apple’s official tourism organization, NYC & Co., found visitors rose to a record 65.2 million in 2018, up 3.8 percent over 2017 — and projected a jump to 67 million this year — making chopped liver of its own predictions of a decline a few years ago.
Maefield and Fortress Investments bought out all their Edition partners last April in a $1.53 billion recapitalization — the climax to a long-running tango that included Schrager; J.W. Marriott Sr.; developer Steven Witkoff; Winthrop Realty Trust; Steven Kassin’s Infinity Real Estate; Barry Sternlicht’s Starwood Property Trust and Howard Lorber’s New Valley LLC. (Marriott manages the property but has no equity. Schrager is a partner with Marriott in management.)
After the developers acquired the two-building corner site for $430 million, they bought additional air rights in 2014 from the Shubert Organization for $409 per square foot for 44,968 square feet — allowing a larger building of nearly 270,000 square feet.
Infinity sold its stake. Then, after ground was broken in 2015, the ground proved to be less stable than expected.
“As we began excavating, we found that old footings were attached to nothing,” Witkoff told us in 2016. “They were literally floating free.”
Shoring up the footings required approval by the MTA, because subway tracks run beneath the site — adding nine months to the job.
The originally planned 500 rooms were cut to 452, while retail and event space grew from 66,360 square feet to 100,000 sf. A spectacular, 18,000 square-foot outdoor LED sign — Times Square’s biggest and brightest to date — was added. The planned opening in 2016 was pushed back several times.
CBRE’s Burwell said that the timing benefitted the project. “The long duration allows capital to come and go” [as needed] and for the design to change to suit the market,” he said.
The gleaming silver tower’s architect is PBDW Architects and interiors are by Yabu Pushelberg/ISC Design Studio. But Schrager is behind the overall design, amenities and atmosphere. He tapped his gift for creating a buzzy, sexy environment full of food, drink and show.
The Edition boasts restaurants by Michelin-starred chef John Fraser, multiple alfresco dining terraces and a high-profile Paradise Club after-dark venue inspired by Bushwick’s House of Yes cabaret.
Maefield and Fortress are also partners with David W. Levinson’s L&L Holding Co. in TSX Broadway — a new hotel to replace the DoubleTree right across the 47th Street corner.
That project, to feature an outdoor performance deck suspended 30 feet above the street, is to be finished by 2022.
“Both hotels combined with entertainment and experiential retail help bring Times Square into the 21st century like never before,” Levinson said, adding, “TSX Broadway, with its one-of-a-kind outdoor stage, will bring premier entertainment streamed world wide.”