So lit right now: How Witkoff’s LED play may safeguard investor against Times Square’s soft market

Developer has 9-story, 18,000-square-foot billboard at West 47th Street and Seventh Avenue
November 14, 2017 08:00AM

Rendering of 20 Times Square (rendering by ArX Solutions) (inset: Steve Witkoff)

Steven Witkoff’s massive billboard in Times Square is already making money for the developer.

Witkoff turned on the switch at the nine-story, 18,000-square-foot billboard at West 47th Street and Seventh Avenue in August, which encircles the base of the luxury hotel his company is designing at the location, according to Crain’s. Although he has yet to finish the hotel and retail space, the billboard is already generating revenue, with advertising rates in Times Square reaching as much as $35,000 per minute.

The developer thinks that the amount of tourists coming to New York City’s neon center will continue to grow, which will help the destination continue to thrive despite a slower office market that initially heralded the revival of the area.

The 39-story project has risks as well, though, as luxury Manhattan hotel room prices have been going down recently, as have retail prices.

Witkoff announced he would be building a hotel back in 2012, but the development did not really start taking shape until four years later. The National Football League plans to take 25,000 square feet of space at the project, while the Hershey Company intends to open a flagship store at the hotel’s base.

Witkoff and his investors, which includes Douglas Elliman CEO Howard Lorber, Maefield Development, Winthrop Realty Trust and Ian Schrager, paid $30 million to buy out the previous owners of the billboards that lined the building. [Crain’s] – Eddie Small