Sydell launches Brooklyn hotel with dorms for Bard students

Penny Williamsburg to offer 102 rooms for Bard scholars, 118 for hotel guests

Sydell Group's Andrew Zobler and rendering of proposed dorm for Bard College students (LinkedIn, Sydell Group)
Sydell Group's Andrew Zobler and rendering of a hotel room at his new Williamsburg establishment (LinkedIn, Sydell Group)

UPDATED Aug. 19, 2022, 6:11 p.m. A new Brooklyn property from Andrew Zobler’s Sydell Group promises to be a learning experience: It’s a hybrid of housing for students and a hotel.

The hotel, titled Penny Williamsburg and located at 288 North 8th Street, will offer 102 rooms for Bard College students, plus 118 for hotel guests.

Zobler’s firm has developed other hotel concepts, including NoMad, LINE and Freehand. Five blocks northwest of the Penny site, Sydell Group paid the Rosenwach Group $10 million in 2012 for three parcels along Wythe Avenue with plans to create a hotel, but sold the project the next year to Hoxton for $17 million. It later became the Hoxton Williamsburg.

The hotel portion of Penny Williamsburg opens today, Aug. 18, and the dormitories will welcome students beginning in January. Bard College is in Dutchess County, but Bard its students do research and internships in New York City.

The rooftop lobby’s bar and restaurant are expected to open early 2023, along with two rooftop terraces offering panoramic views of the Williamsburg and Manhattan skylines.

Sydell Group said the dormitory partnership was inspired by the group’s former work with Bard at Freehand, where all 395 guest rooms have murals hand-painted by Bard students and alumni.

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As part of a wider initiative with Bard, Sydell Group launched a multi-disciplinary artist residency at the Freehand, where students can use its rooftop art studio and show or curate work in the hotel’s public spaces.

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“We felt that it presented an interesting opportunity for an integrated approach and to collaborate on the art program throughout the hotel,” said Zobler, the Sydell Group founder and CEO, who has served on Bard’s board for the Performing Arts Center for years, in a statement.

Partnering with the liberal arts college isn’t the only way the hotel is incorporating the arts. It is also partnering with two local arts organizations, LAND Gallery and Pure Vision Arts, by providing the ground floor as an art gallery and donating $1 from each reservation to the organizations.

The property features installations by artist Yuko Nishikawa and other local artists. The portrait of Penny at the hotel entrance was commissioned by artist and Bard graduate Michelle Devereux.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated which Bard students will use the new hotel. They will be undergraduates.