Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nation's Tallest Hotel Tower May Rise in N.Y.


Nation's Tallest Hotel Tower May Rise in N.Y.
Special to the SunApril 19, 2007

A developer has proposed building a 90-plus-story hotel near the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, people familiar with the plans say. The tower would be the tallest hotel in the country as currently planned, rising 980 feet.

The group proposing the tower, Extell Development, is one of three entities vying for a state contract to build a huge hotel on 35th Street and Eleventh Avenue. The facility would serve the Javits Center, which is planning an expansion, and act as a key piece of the city and state's ambitious efforts to completely reinvent Midtown's far west side.

The other two developers, said to be the Moinian Group and FaulknerUSA, are proposing towers that would rise 58 and 70 stories, respectively. All three proposals, which include between 1,200 and 1,300 rooms, could be altered before the final bids are submitted.

The designs come as the state is seeking a hotel to accompany its plans for an expansion of the Javits Center, which has long been criticized as being too small to accommodate the city's needs for convention space. A 340,000-square-foot expansion was approved last year, though the new Spitzer administration is currently reviewing the proposal and is likely planning revisions.

A vice president at the real estate firm CB Richard Ellis who specializes in the hospitality industry, Jeffrey Dauray, said the area will have a tremendous need for hotel space as the surrounding area is developed.

"The Javits Center is really positioned to attract a significant amount of business with an expanded convention facility," Mr. Dauray said. "I really believe that hotel, serving as the convention center's hotel, will benefit from the demand that New York should provide."

The push for the hotel is but one item on a laundry list of giant projects planned for the area.

The state will soon put out to bid up to 13 million square feet of residential and office space over the Hudson rail yards; the city is planning a $2.1 billion extension of the No. 7 subway, and developers are negotiating with the state over plans to build a giant mixed-use project comprising a stadium and rail station across from Pennsylvania Station.

The state had initially hoped to select a developer by March. A spokesman for New York's Empire State Development Corporation, Errol Cockfield, did not offer a timetable but said the state has asked developers to give more specifics in their proposals.

Numerous people familiar with the project said the state intends to strongly consider the need for subsidy from developers.

"What they told us is at the end of the day, the best financial plan is going to win," a land use chairwoman at Community Board 4, Anna Levin, said.