Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Times Square Gateway Center to Have Largest LED Screen

A new $800 million hotel/retail complex will soon rise at 701 Seventh Avenue in Times Square, at the corner of 47th Street. The project, called the Times Square Gateway Center, will rest atop a multi-story retail shopping complex, which will be covered by a 100-foot tall LED screen. The project will rise 36 stories, with a 500-room hotel tower sitting above the giant screen. At 24,000 square feet, the LED screen will be the largest in the United States, and the development's most prominent feature.

The iconic Times Square Gateway Center development, located at 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, will dramatically transform a prime corner of Manhattan's Times Square.

When fully complete in three years, the $800 million project will feature 130,000 square feet of best-in-class multistory retail space facing Times Square, a 24,000 square-foot state-of-the-art LED sign wrapping around its facade at 100 feet of height, a dramatic rooftop and entertainment venue overlooking Times Square, and a world-class 500-room hotel tower.

The podium building will deliver retail space with an unparalleled technology infrastructure, large floor plates, and wide open unobstructed areas to serve the hundreds of millions of consumers who come through America's number one tourist destination.

Maefield Development and The Witkoff Group purchased the development site for $430 million in September, after years of negotiations with the various interest holders. The assemblage of all the purchase rights needed to create a developable site of this scale required securing purchase agreements for the land from the owners of the 701 Seventh Avenue property, lease buyout agreements from the long-term retail tenants on the the ground floor, and purchase agreements for the existing signage -  all of which came together during this summer.

The existing eleven-story turn-of-the-century office building currently on the site will be demolished to make way for the project's retail and signage complex, expected to be operational within two years. The joint venture will spend $330 million to develop the retail complex and another $470 million for the hotel tower.

Starwood Capital is providing $475 million in combined acquisition and construction financing for the development. This transformational development is a testament to New York City's resilience and staying power in the midst of a slow national economic recovery. NYC's intellectual energy and economic vibrancy continues to inspire entrepreneurial risk takers to take large bets with the potential to generate thousands of new jobs for the City.

Some may disagree with the gigantic advertisements, but they have been a part of Times Square's history since the nineteenth century. In this case, the bigger the better. Ironically, some towers in Times Square have come to function as billboards rather than buildings, with One Times Square having stood empty on the inside for years.

Times Square's renaissance has been remarkable over the last 15 years. It has regained its dominance as the most highly visited urban corridor in the world, offering global retailers and brands unparalleled foot traffic and visibility. Today, retail, lodging and entertainment together generate over $5 billion in sales annually in the Square. In April of this year, the Bloomberg administration announced a $50 million overhaul of Times Square's streetscape to include new pedestrian areas, new sidewalks, granite benches, and lighting fixtures which are expected to give the venerated urban square a more modern feel and a fresh new look.

Nonetheless, the Gateway Center snagging the title of largest LED screen is impressive. Many speculate that 701 Seventh Avenue could trigger a new war for the largest LED screen in Times Square.