View Full Version : Hotel On Rivington - 107 Rivington Street - Lower East Side

May 7th, 2003, 08:27 AM
May 7, 2003
A High-Rise Hotel on Old Rivington St.

Amid the tenement fire escapes, old synagogues, bodegas and Chinese storefronts of the Lower East Side, a narrow 20-story glass-walled designer hotel is rising, a $32 million bet that the neighborhood has arrived as a fashionable downtown destination.

The hotel is going up in the middle of a narrow block of Rivington Street — just around the corner from the huge Essex Street Market, built generations ago to move the pushcarts off the streets, on the site of a meat-processing plant that was used by the long-gone Schmulka Bernstein delicatessen next door.

But rather than serving nostalgia buffs or Chinese businessmen, the hotel, scheduled to open its first rooms in September, has been built for affluent professionals willing to pay for style and personal service.

Paul W. Stallings, the developer of the 111-room project, said he began construction of a conventional building, but redesigned the project in midstream as he sensed that the neighborhood had become trendy enough to support a high-concept hotel.

The project was stopped for a time as the facade was redesigned and the bricks replaced with a Mondrian-like mosaic of opaque and translucent glass floor-to-ceiling panels in each guest room. The lobby was enlarged and the rooms redesigned.

The luminous tower rises 195 feet above a 50-foot-wide lot at 107 Rivington Street. Since it is the only high-rise building in the area, surrounded by blocks of five- and six-story tenements, it offers views from the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to the Triborough Bridge and beyond.

To build such a large project on such a small lot "as of right," without special government approvals, Mr. Stallings purchased development rights from six surrounding brownstones — offering one owner 10 free hotel stays a year — and used these air rights to double the space of the building, to 68,000 square feet, and thus double the height.

Once listed by the hotel industry as the Rivington, the hotel has been renamed Surface, the Hotel, after Surface magazine, a fashion and design magazine that appears eight times a year with a focus on younger designers. Such designers will be enlisted with the intention of creating showcase rooms — contributing, it is hoped, to the hotel's cachet.

Surface will be operated independently by the Page Group, a hotel management group led by Klaus Ortlieb, who was the first general manager of the Mercer, the luxury boutique hotel in SoHo that now commands a loyal following and rates that start at $395 a night.

The boutique hotel industry has shown that with the right perception of image and style, smaller hotels can command premium rates.

"If a boutique hotel can get the right buzz, it doesn't matter where it is," said Bjorn Hanson, a managing director of PricewaterhouseCoopers, who heads its hotel unit. "People will go where the buzz is."

But to compete with the Mercer and its imitators, Mr. Stallings plans to offer a little more in the way of space, comfort, views, style and price.

While typical New York hotel rooms, and the lowest-price rooms at the Mercer, are about 250 square feet or less, the new hotel's standard rooms will be 375 square feet. Rooms will include soaking tubs or oversized 5-by-8-foot glass-walled showers (curtains available).

Rates will range from $250 a night for standard rooms to $2,500 for a duplex penthouse. The larger rooms and lower prices are possible, Mr. Stallings said, because of the relatively low land costs and savings on construction that come from his serving as his own general contractor. Mr. Stallings has a history as a developer in the area, particularly in the East Village, where he developed the 125-apartment Tompkins Square Plaza on East 7th Street.

From the narrow streets right around the building, the height of the structure is not so apparent. But a few blocks to the north, on Avenue A, its towering bulk seems to rise out of the double-yellow centerline of the roadway like a large box.

"There is no denying it sticks out like a sore thumb," said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Historic Preservation Society. "There certainly might have been some desire for development which fit its context more gracefully."

A ground-floor restaurant (chef to be announced) will look out on an ageless backyard tenement scene. "We celebrate the tenement context; we want to look out on fire escapes," Mr. Stallings said.

Standing on the 20th floor, looking out over the tenements, Mr. Stallings said that with his ownership of the air rights and the presence nearby of mostly rent-regulated buildings that are unlikely to be demolished, the surrounding tenement view would be preserved — at least when looking out from his towering building.

"This is all protected," he said. "Nothing can change."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

May 7th, 2003, 08:36 AM

May 7th, 2003, 01:42 PM
Are there any architect's renderings of this?

May 7th, 2003, 04:59 PM
None found online. The article doesn't even mention an architect.

May 7th, 2003, 05:01 PM
It's probably at a more advanced stage than in the picture, however. Someone could go take a look.

May 8th, 2003, 10:33 AM
It should be with a Sept. '03 opening planned.

May 8th, 2003, 11:03 AM
I saw it last night, it looks pretty much the same as the photo except now it is topped out and the netting is gone.

Rivington St. is cool, and generally the neighborhood is too. It's got nice old buildings, lots of bars, some restaurants, and good shopping, but go a block east and it starts getting noisy and dirty, and somewhat sketchy. Such a hotel would be great for the neighborhood, but it really is a gamble. I'm not sure I'd shell out $2500 to stay there even if I had that kind of money to burn.

We'll see. I'll try to remember to snap a picture of it next time I'm over there.

May 8th, 2003, 03:46 PM
Thanks a lot!

May 16th, 2003, 11:25 PM

Quite a gamble for sure. Good to know there are still people out there willing to take such risks. Let's hope the building turns out good though.

May 17th, 2003, 02:30 AM
I'm proof positive it will help the neighborhood. The Lower East Side could use a few more mid-rises and high-rises like this one.

June 16th, 2003, 12:07 PM
Since I'm not usually around here and had a camera with me, I took some shots despite the gloomy conditions. At least we can see the progress....





TLOZ Link5
June 16th, 2003, 02:05 PM
Wow...that's quite a contrast.

June 16th, 2003, 02:14 PM
It's so gigantic... the horror!

June 16th, 2003, 08:36 PM
Quote: from billyblancoNYC on 2:14 pm on June 16, 2003
It's so gigantic... the horror!

Lol! It really is horrible. What were they thinking.

June 17th, 2003, 10:14 AM
Damn these people that try to create nice things and improves areas, provide new jobs, and cause other horrible consequences.

TLOZ Link5
June 17th, 2003, 05:53 PM
We should have preserved the area as a haven for old-law tenements, the mob scene, homeless people and crackhouses, instead of deciding to keep crime down and build nice new buildings.

October 22nd, 2003, 11:48 AM
I was on jury duty on monday at the Federal Courthouse at 500 Pearl St. I hate the building, but the views from the 24th floor are outstanding. Only tall building up to midtown is Confucius Plaza. The hotel facade is not complete, but it dominates the neighborhood, the effect similar to Citicorp in LIC.

I wish I had photos, but no cameras allowed.

TLOZ Link5
October 22nd, 2003, 12:06 PM
Construction photo from ss.com, taken in MayL


December 22nd, 2003, 09:16 PM
Hotel on Rivington St, Dec 22 2003:




Snail's pace.

December 22nd, 2003, 09:25 PM
Yeah, I would have expected it to be finished by now. Thanks for the photos, I'd been thinking about this building recently... I'd like to see it when it's finished and smoothed out.

December 22nd, 2003, 09:38 PM
I wonder why this building is so underrated? I love this type of architecture.

December 22nd, 2003, 10:34 PM
I love the skin and different colored glass panels. Looks good. oh no, it's out of character with the neighborhood.

December 23rd, 2003, 09:53 AM
It reminds me of the Partridge Family bus....... :p

December 23rd, 2003, 11:10 AM
Love seeing this towering over that dirty old brick building. That needs to be cleaned.

Nice display of the past vs. the present.

December 23rd, 2003, 01:40 PM
I still cant (as a co-op/Condo searcher) believe that there is SO much expensive poo in this city.

It is kind of two-fold. That things like the foreground could still exist in an area that costs so much. OR that things in the foreground could COST so much to begin with!!!!

If these lands were not so frigging expensive, I think most of them would have been developed by now. So ironically, their high prices make them the lowest eschelon of quality.

March 1st, 2004, 01:17 PM


Too tall for the neighborhood?


March 1st, 2004, 05:00 PM
Too tall? Maybe some of the more crappy buildings need to be razed and the neighborhood needs to catch up!

Anyway, great facade, really top notch.

March 6th, 2004, 12:31 AM
Hmm... I think the building is marginal at best. It would have been much better without the stripe of grey stuff shown in Zippy's second picture. Luckily it looks good from farther away.

Freedom Tower
March 6th, 2004, 05:41 PM
Too tall? Maybe some of the more crappy buildings need to be razed and the neighborhood needs to catch up!

Anyway, great facade, really top notch.

You are joking about that facade right? It's disgusting up close, I like the height though. But that area needs some development.

March 6th, 2004, 05:46 PM
The facade will probably be better looking when construction is finished and everything smooths out, some facades tend to look like crap with wires hanging around and windowpanes littered with tape and other materials.

March 6th, 2004, 06:40 PM
They sure need more buildings in that area of manhattan... :|

TLOZ Link5
March 6th, 2004, 10:44 PM
They sure need more buildings in that area of manhattan... :|

Not at the price of displacing the nightlife that's there, I hope.

October 9th, 2004, 11:49 AM
The Rivington Saga

Paul Stallings had developed only humble brick rentals when he decided to build a gleaming high-rise hotel on the Lower East Side (complete with an aerie for his family of eight). Four years later, it’s finally about to open.

By Carl Swanson, New York Magazine

The Stallings FamilySpace 900 square feet
Location Lower East Side
The Rivington is a gleaming high-rise hotel on the Lower East Side.

Like it or not—and there are good reasons to at the very least feel pretty uncomfortable about it—Paul Stallings is a Lower East Side visionary. He’s imposed his twenty-story glass-and-aluminum conception—the Hotel on Rivington—on the area’s self-consciously bohemian tenementscape.

This has taken years. The unfinished Tokyo-esque building has loomed over the southern end of Avenue A, seemingly an artifact of the go-go nineties gone bust. Construction started at the end of 2001. There were delays as the place was redesigned. Costs soared, and Stallings had to come up with more money. But now, just as the neighborhood was getting used to having this arrested development in its midst, it’s actually about to open.

Stallings loves the building so much that he and his wife, Rena, have built a spare, open apartment on its seventeenth floor. “From before we broke ground, we knew that that was something we wanted,” he says. It has 86 feet of continuous floor-to-ceiling windows, and bunk beds equipped with built-in flat-panel TVs for their six children. At 900 square feet, it’s a lot smaller than their nine-bedroom “grand old Gold Coast white elephant of a house” on ten acres in Oyster Bay (plus, it lacks a kitchen). Instead of goats, ponies, and a barn, there’s a commanding view of the East River.
Paul and Rena Stallings with their six children in the glass box of their living room. (Architect Matt Grzywinski dealt with the column in the middle of the room by spiraling couches around it.)
The children’s custom-built bunk beds. Flat-screen TVs fold into the walls.

Which makes it easier to understand why the Stallings have done this. In a city of uninspired development, there’s something refreshingly hubristic about their new hotel. It’s the kind of building Trump might erect on Rivington Street if his tastes ran more toward Blade Runner than Dallas.

Stallings was seeing more and more professionals—the quasi-edgy sorts with a “secret tattoo,” he says—looking in the East Village, and decided to build a doorman rental building on East 7th Street, between B and C. It’s large, brick, and unassertive—he says he wouldn’t make it that demure if he did it today. After that was a success, he began buying up the air rights of buildings along Rivington Street between Essex and Ludlow.

The original plan was for a brick tower with balconies. “This project was conceived four years ago,” he says. “At that point, there was no economic justification to do anything that’s not . . . I don’t want to say plain vanilla, but a little more affordable. As the project began to unfold, so did the neighborhood.” Clinton Street’s restaurant row was flourishing, the Town Cars were circling. Stallings had an idea: Why not open a boutique hotel?

He approached André Balazs, proprietor of the Mercer, to invest in and operate the place. At that point, the design still called for brick. “I was intrigued by the location, but I told him the building was horrific,” Balazs says. Mostly he didn’t become involved because the plan was so “complicated.”

The building was financed as a hotel-condominium, which made it easier to get money from banks, and the plumbing is still there to make that conversion (the closets have all the utilities running to them to allow a quick transformation to kitchenettes). Stallings admits to a creative development approach to get the building built.

Once construction started, his ambitions swelled.

“I mean, I’ve done other apartment buildings before, which I certainly take pride in, but this became something larger-than-life,” he says. “There was an economic justification to take the project to another level aesthetically. And hopefully this isn’t just a vanity thing.”

His architect, Amador Pons, brought in Matt Grzywinski to design a less plain-vanilla interior and re-skin the tower in a Mondrianish pattern of glass panels. Grzywinski, who’s 28 and lankily handsome enough to work the front desk at an Ian Schrager hotel, has his Howard Roark patter down cold: He calls the structure “unapologetic.”

And Stallings doesn’t apologize for the fact that it’s about looking out over its low-rise neighbors. “The whole passionate guiding force here was to create a restful environment where you can experience the city from,” Stallings says. “You’re free to embrace the views.”

Up on the seventeenth floor, Rena and Grzywinski show off the Stallingses’ walk-through closet, which provides a back entrance to their bedroom (“such as it is,” says Grzywinski) when motorized curtains have enclosed it. A balcony runs the length of the apartment’s north wall, like the bridge of a ship. “Rena wanted to completely glass over the terrace because she’s so paranoid that one of our children is going to go off the edge,” says Paul.
The Stallingses’ bedroom is open to the apartment’s living room and the view. A motorized curtain (not pictured) provides privacy and blocks the sun. Originally, Rena wanted to glass-in the terrace because of the kids.
The corner bath, which fills from a spout in the ceiling. The floors are heated slate.

“When he came to me, it was very clear that he wanted to make it a very beautiful sort of design statement,” says Jeff Klein, who runs City Club in midtown. (After Balazs, Stallings had made the rounds of other hoteliers; he ended up hiring a former manager of the Mercer.) “I said, ‘I think this should be condos,’ ” Klein says. “And he said, ‘No, I want it to be a hotel.’ I didn’t know if it’s his last hurrah, but it’s definitely his hurrah.” Klein wasn’t sure the hotel could make money: The building was expensive and Stallings would have to charge rates (the plan now is for $265 to $5,000 a night) that would require the area to become the meatpacking district—and fast.
The entryway to the hotel, on Rivington Street off Essex, was created by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders. It’s a supersize version of a vase he’d cast using eggs wrapped in condoms, turned on its side. “I had never conceived of the egg entrance,” says Paul Stallings. “I can certainly tell you that is well beyond my creative reach.” His daughter passes through the aperture.

And the coup de grâce is the penthouse, by Zaha Hadid, winner of the Pritzker Prize.

Last year, when the hotel was first supposed to open, Keith McNally opened Schiller’s Liquor Bar down the block, and Stallings appeared prescient—again. “I certainly would have been someone who, ten years ago, would have been aghast at the notion of a twenty-story glass tower being built in the Lower East Side,” Stallings says. But he’s proud of his avant-garde accomplishment, including the egg entryway. “I had some scary moments, people are going to react—like, ‘What’s this doing in this neighborhood?’ But I sort of invite that..”

October 9th, 2004, 08:54 PM
Lower East Side and the Hotel Rivington (http://www.wirednewyork.com/hotels/rivington/default.htm). 9 October 2004.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/hotels/rivington/rivington_hotel_9oct04.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/hotels/rivington/default.htm)

October 9th, 2004, 10:18 PM
Thanks Edward. As that pic shows there's an even skinnier highrise rising to the left.

October 12th, 2004, 12:19 PM
That's the new loft building on Bowery at Spring Street.