JUNE 30, 2010
Reported by Kelly Nealis, ULI New York Young Leaders Group
Despite numerous challenges, New York’s Ace Hotel, which opened last year, has been a large success, enjoying both growing popularity and healthy returns. Among these challenges were the hotel’s location at the corner of 29th Street and Broadway, a then-unproven and still nameless neighborhood, and a beautiful but complex building, which housed more than 300 residents at the time of purchase and 58 room types. However, these supposed obstacles seem to have not mattered much. In fact, the developers maintain that the project’s many challenges were, in fact, exactly what provided them with an opportunity to create value. Moreover, the Ace Hotel has added a new typology to New York’s boutique hotels – one with an all-encompassing, inclusive atmosphere that is both low-key and high-style.
On June 30, Young Leaders and participants in the ULI Mentor Program heard a panel discussion featuring several members of the Ace Hotel team in the Ace Hotel’s Liberty Hall. Together, they provided multiple perspectives on the design and development process. Speakers included Ace Hotel founder Alex Calderwood, developers Andrew Zobler and John Saric, interior designer Robin Standefer, and The Breslin’s April Bloomfield. Two recurring themes during the discussion were the importance of personal relationships and the role of design. Robin Standefer explained the importance of the hotel’s “stylistic sustainability,” an authentic “found” quality, which, through the combination of old and new, cannot become outdated. The discussion also touched on the hotel’s financing structure, the role of tax credits, locational considerations, and branding. After the discussion, Young Leaders, District Council members and the panelists enjoyed a lively networking session with cocktails and snacks.
Andrew Zobler, CEO, GFI Development Company, LLC
John Saric, VP of Development, GFI Development Company, LLC
Alex Calderwood, Founder, Ace Hotels
April Bloomfield, Restauranteur, The Breslin & The Spotted Pig
Robin Standefer, Founder, Roman and Williams