The sin I live in: Times Square looks to Las Vegas for inspiration

Casino, hotels galore planned for bruised shopping mecca

New York /
Apr.April 26, 2022 12:30 PM
Photo illustration of SL Green's Marc Holliday (iStock, Getty)

Photo illustration of SL Green’s Marc Holliday (iStock, Getty)

As Times Square plots its post-pandemic future, the tourism and entertainment hub is taking a page out of Sin City.

A series of new projects are betting big on tourism and entertainment in the neighborhood as its offices remain largely vacant, the Wall Street Journal reports. Prospects include Manhattan’s first casino, hotels with high-life amenities and major upgrades to tourist attractions.

“I hope that anyone who wrote obituaries for Times Square has an eraser,” said Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, the neighborhood’s business improvement district.

Before the pandemic emptied Times Square’s shops, theaters and offices, the district had an equivalent economic output to the city of Nashville. Its 66,000 workers accounted for roughly 15 percent of the city’s economy.

In recent years, tourism in the district has recovered more quickly than office work. In March, Times Square hotel occupancy hit 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to the BID, while office keycard swipes were just 37 percent of their former level, according to Kastle Systems. Some of the city’s biggest developers are taking notice and turning to the Las Vegas Strip for ideas.

As New York seeks to fast-track downstate casino licenses to spur economic recovery, SL Green Realty wants to build a casino in Manhattan. In an earnings call last week, chief executive Marc Holliday made the case for building it in Times Square.

“The absolute best, most obvious, least impactful and most globally accepted area will be Times Square,” he said.
Other real estate heavyweights are investing in hospitality as international tourists flock back. Extell Development’s Hard Rock branded hotel opened on Monday with a “rock star” duplex penthouse and outdoor pool.

L&L Holding is building TSX Broadway, a $2.5 billion hotel and retail development with a concert stage facing out onto Times Square, with opening slated for 2023. The firm considered changing the development when the pandemic struck, but opted to stay the course.

“Tourists were going to continue to come,” said L&L’s David Orowitz.

And Jamestown is expected to announce a major upgrade of One Times Square, the tourist attraction where the ball – and Ryan Seacrest – drops every New Year’s Eve.

Others are skipping development and just buying hospitality at bargain-bin prices. MCR and Andrew Farkas’ Island Capital Group scooped up a Sheraton in Times Square last week for $373 million, roughly half of what the property last sold for in 2006.

Commenting on the deal, MCR’s chief executive Tyler Morse offered up the new Times Square mantra.

“People want to be with other people,” he said.

[WSJ] — Joe Lovinger





    Related Articles

    arrow_forward_ios
    Accurate CEO Jack Klugmann and the Fairfield, CT Metro North train station (Accurate, Robert Mortell/via Wikimedia Commons, iStock)
    NJ developer buys languishing project in Fairfield
    NJ developer buys languishing project in Fairfield
    Kohl's CEO Michell Glass (Kohl's, iStock)
    Kohl’s looking to cash in on $8B real estate portfolio
    Kohl’s looking to cash in on $8B real estate portfolio
    Sackman Enterprises president Carter Sackman and 15-19 West 96th Street (Sackman Enterprises, Google Maps, iStock)
    Fed up Chabad sues Sackman over unfinished condo
    Fed up Chabad sues Sackman over unfinished condo
    A photo illustration of Times Square (iStock)
    Retail asking rents show signs of recovery
    Retail asking rents show signs of recovery
    SL Green's Harrison Sitomer and 450 Park Avenue (SL Green, Taconic Partners)
    SL Green closes on Park Avenue office tower
    SL Green closes on Park Avenue office tower
    240 Sullivan Street and Sky Management’s Jonathan Ohebshalom (Sky Management, Google Maps, iStock)
    Sky buys Greenwich Village mixed-use building in quiet week for i-sales
    Sky buys Greenwich Village mixed-use building in quiet week for i-sales
    Extell Development's Gary Barnett and 171-179 East 86th Street (Extell Development, iStock)
    Checkmate for Papaya King: Extell files demo plans on UES
    Checkmate for Papaya King: Extell files demo plans on UES
    Marble Collegiate Church, HFZ's Ziel Feldman and Vanbarton’s Gary Tischler (Getty, iStock)
    Church seeks to escape hellish partnership with HFZ
    Church seeks to escape hellish partnership with HFZ
    arrow_forward_ios

    The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

    Loading...