Volume 23, Number 11 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 21 - 27, 2010
From the Archives
Current Hotel boom is a prediction come true
In July 1998, the Downtown Express included an article titled “New Hotel is planned at White St. site in northern Tribeca.” Josh Rogers reported the acquisition of a triangular space located between the Church Street and 6th Avenue by Hartz Mountain Industries, the company that owned and operated the SoHo Grand hotel and predicted a “second act” for the company’s venture in the hospitality industry. In May 2001, the Tribeca Grand opened its doors on the location, and has since become one of the Downtown area’s most trendy and luxurious sources of hospitality and nightlife, with rates from $399 per night.
The opening of the Tribeca Grand preceded a recent hotel boom in Lower Manhattan, one Aline Reynolds described in her article “Surge in hotels may be positive sign,” published July 9th. Her article described the opening of three new Downtown hotels since January, a sign local leaders say affirms the desirability of the Downtown area to businesspeople and tourists. “‘Downtown’s hotel boom is a reflection of an increased and diverse market in the district,’” Elizabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance, told Reynolds. “‘Business travelers remain a significant market element, but the growth of leisure visitors and special events shows that Lower Manhattan is a destination of choice in the region, nationally and around the world.’”
The luxurious elements of the new hotels (Reynolds described “flat-screen high-definition TVs, leather furniture and Sferra linens” in one) also follow the precedent of the Grand hotels in Soho and Tribeca. Rogers’ article recounted a change in the business model of the Soho Grand soon after it opened in 1996, in which the hotel went from a moderately priced establishment to one that offered rooms in the “$250-$300 range.” (The hotel’s rates now start at $399 per night.) When the Tribeca Grand opened, the luxury was already an integral part of the image of the hotel and Church Lounge, the popular nightspot that the building’s operators open to the public.
Not all newly opened hotels aim to provide a comparable experience or charge a similar price, but their rates reflect an attractive location. For instance, the newly opened Holiday Inn Express at 126 Water Street charges about $160 dollars per night, relatively cheap for the area but significantly more than similar branches around the country. Reynolds reported that this sign proves Lower Manhattan is “a hotspot for businessmen and tourists,” even in areas close to the World Trade Center, once a source of anxiety for travelers to the City.
Indeed, when the Tribeca Grand opened its doors in 2001, less than a year removed from 9/11, the desirability of the Downtown area was in question despite a quickly growing hotel market before the attacks. Even in 1998, Rogers reported, “several other hotel projects have been proposed for the Downtown area.” Lower Manhattan residents had to wonder if they’re neighborhoods would ever become highly regarded again.
But the current hotel boom provides eloquent testimony to the thriving Downtown area. In 1998, Emanuel Stern, president and C.E.O of Hartz Mountain Industries, the company that owned the Soho Grand, told Rogers he was optimistic about the investment in the Tribeca space because “‘The Downtown hotel market is very strong and I think no one knows than better than us.’” Today, he would certainly say the same.
— compiled by Joseph Rearick
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