The Wall Street Journal/ Oct. 5, 2016
A large West Chelsea project is adding another dash of posh along the High Line and providing the latest evidence of the elevated park’s allure for developers.
Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas will open its first U.S. location at HFZ Capital Group’s 950,000-square foot, $1.9 billion mixed-use development. The Eleventh, as the project is to be known, will be designed by the celebrated Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.
The 137-room luxury hotel will be built in one of two travertine and bronze towers at the heart of the project.
Six Senses plans to bring its pampering wellness programs focusing on everything from sleep and nutrition to meditation to the complex, which would be among the largest developments along the High Line below West 30th Street. The Eleventh will sit on the full block between 10th and 11th avenues between West 17th and West 18th streets.
Giving the project an additional boost: The private-equity firm that owns Six Senses is taking a 50% stake in the project’s hotel portion, valued at a minimum of $260 million or, as HFZ likes to phrase it, “more than $1.9 million a key.”
“A company that is around the world is saying right now, this is the kind of money we are going to spend just to be here,” said Ziel Feldman, HFZ chairman and founder.
Since the High Line’s first section opened in 2009, a cluster of new buildings near it have changed the surrounding cityscape, some with distinctive designs from well-known architects such as the late Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster.
The High Line was part of a broader rezoning of West Chelsea in 2005 that allowed for the transfer of air rights along the park and residential development in certain areas. Many, however, see the ribbon-shaped park itself as the centerpiece and catalyst of the redevelopment of downtown Manhattan’s west side, home now to the Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum of American Art and the Standard Hotel hat straddles the park and was designed by Todd Schliemann of Ennead Architects.
“I wouldn’t say it wouldn’t have happened without the High Line, but I will say the High Line serves as the neighborhood anchor,” said Moses Gates, director of community planning and design for the Regional Plan Association, an urban planning and civic group.
The Eleventh’s two towers, designed by Mr. Ingels—one about 300 feet tall and the other about 400 feet—will house about 240 condominium apartments. The Six Senses hotel will take up floors 3 to 11 of the eastern tower. The widths of the buildings’ facades will shift as they ascend to maximize views of the water and park.
The Eleventh also will feature about 90,000 square feet of retail space, some of which will be developed beneath the High Line, where Six Senses plans a restaurant. In a five-story commercial building on the complex’s southwestern corner, at West 17th Street and 11th Avenue, Six Senses has leased space in the top three floors and the rooftop for its membership club and other amenities.
The project includes a 10,000-square-foot street-level park on a triangle of the site on the east side of the High Line.
For Bangkok-based Six Senses, the venture represents a company push to expand globally. The HFZ project was among several the company considered, said Neil Jacobs, Six Senses chief executive. Its location in a thriving, diverse cultural district made it a “perfect fit.”
“We’re able with the design and architecture of the buildings to take the principals of the brand and interpret them in this environment,” Mr. Jacobs said.
Six Senses intends to cater to a customer base that includes the tower residents, the local community and city visitors in addition to hotel guests, Mr. Jacobs said.
Although increases in average room rates for New York City luxury hotels have slowed in the last two years, Mr. Jacobs said he was bullish on the project. Six Senses’s owner, Pegasus Capital Advisors LP, has staked $30 million in the hotel joint venture, he said. Mr. Jacobs said he anticipated a $900 average room rate once the hotel operation stabilizes.
The High Line has raised the design bar for surrounding buildings, Mr. Ingels said.
“Anyone building adjacent has to sit a little more straight in their chair,” Mr. Ingels said. “For architects, of course, we have to step our best foot forward when building next to the High Line,” he added.
Write to Keiko Morris at Keiko.Morris@wsj.com
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