TrendWatching: Will Prison Hotels Be Replaced By Insane Asylum Hotels?
Word on First Avenue is that Manhattan officials are trying to convince a developer to turn New York City's famous Bellevue psychiatric ward into swanky new hotel digs. Sounds crazy, no?
Not so says the NYC Economic Development Corporation and Health and Hospital Corporation, who report the building would make an ideal hotel and conference center to house the medical and life-science industry folk who travel to the area.
Built by architect Charles B. Myers, the 1931 Italian Renaissance-style asylum is still a beautiful, albeit rundown building with magnificent architectural details, many different wings, and long corridors totaling an insane (ahem) 400,000 square feet of virtual hotel space.And while the rooms are a smallish for new condos or co-ops, their size is just right for guest rooms.
Until the mid-1980s, the (in)famous psych ward hosted countless criminals and kooks, with Mark David Chapman (John Lennon's murderer), author Norman Mailer, Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick and jazz great Charlie Parker among its many one-time guests. Come on, what other hotel in the U.S. can boast that?
But will switching from straight-jackets to bathrobes be a tourist draw? Perhaps. A mental hospital-turned-luxe hotel might just attract all those hoping for a wild and crazy time in the Big Apple. Worst case scenario, it might just get the local crazies off the streets.