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The Man Behind Manhattan's Newest Hotels

February 18, 2008 at 1:35 PM | by | ()

If you haven't already heard, Manhattan is going hotel crazy. The Big Apple is going to add a much-needed 20,000 rooms by 2010 but those rooms aren't going to be found in the next Andre Balazs or Ian Schrager hotel.

Nope the big box chains are doing most of the adding here and they all have the same man doing their designs: architect Gene Kaufman.

In a profile with the NY Times, Kaufman points out his renderings for Sheraton, DoubleTree and a Marriott. In all, he is designing 36 new hotels in Manhattan.. To put in perspective:

On one block near Times Square -- 39th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues -- Mr. Kaufman, 50, has five hotels under construction.

When we heard this immediately we thought of developer Sam Chang and his McSam group who is responsible for bringing all these chains into Manhattan. And it turns out Kaufman is designing nearly 90 percent of McSam's hotels. He even did the Duane Street Hotel.

So why is Kaufman so hotly pursued by developers? It's probably because he can squeeze in more rooms.

What he brings to the table, he said, is the ability to maximize the number of hotel rooms on a given site. Recently, he said, a client showed him another architect's plans for a hotel in Lower Manhattan; Mr. Kaufman was able to alter the plans to squeeze in 25 percent more rooms. In the current market, a mid-range Manhattan hotel room -- typically 250 square feet -- is worth $400,000 to $500,000 to the developer, he said.

Of course, that means smaller rooms but Kaufman says he tries to organize the buildings to eliminate "uninhabitable space." So does this include the space between the bathroom door and the toilet? Seems like it.

A prime example of Kaufman's MO is the plan for 39th Street in Times Square. Three different hotel brands--Holiday Inn Express, a Candlewood Suites and a Hampton Inn--will share a single, 36-story building.

In a move that will probably snatch the ugliest building award away from the Westin Times Square, each brand will have its own different facade, on a building that's only 110 feet wide.

So the Holiday Inn Express will be have red and black brick (alternating in three-story stripes). The Hampton Inn will get white and black brick while Candlewood Suites will sport silvery metal. See picture at right for expected look.

And Kaufman is doing the same thing at a property on 40th Street which will include a Four Points by Sheraton, Fairfield Inn and Staybridge Suites, each more than 30 stories tall.

So while the outside will look dizzying, inside each brand will have its own signs and lobbies and guestrooms in the brands signature style. The only nice thing we can say about this is that well, if one hotel is sold out you won't have to walk far to check into the next one.

[Photo of Kaufman: G. Paul Burnett for NY Times]

Archived Comments:

Re: The Man Behind Manhattan's Newest Hotels

That's just, wrong.

Re: The Man Behind Manhattan's Newest Hotels

Just try working in one of these hotels. No storage space for supplies or linens, no luggage room to hold guest luggage, shared office for multiple managers and small breakfast rooms equal a nice profit to the owners and management companies that build/operate them.
At a minimum of $259 per nt for a shoebox of a room is what is labeled "affordable New York hotel rooms"