GFI Hospitality’s building and neighborhood revitalizations create a positive buzz in New York City and elsewhere.
By Jim Harris, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
Walk through any of GFI Hospitality’s properties and you’ll immediately be transformed to an experience that is completely deliberate and intentional.
Completed in 1881, the 10-story Temple Court building at 5 Beekman Street in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District was one of New York City’s first skyscrapers. Once the home of a social club, theatre company and professional offices, Temple Court was completely vacant and left to decay for more than 10 years before GFI Hospitality LLC became involved and took over the property in 2012.
GFI’s vision for the property included restoring the Queen Anne-style building as a world-class luxury hotel and adding an adjoining 51-story modern luxury condominium tower. The company realized this vision in 2016 when it opened The Beekman Hotel and Residences, as the property is now known.
“Behind the walls of this building there are a million stories,” GFI Hospitality Managing Director Joel Rosen says. “We chose a team that could help us tell those stories to our guests as well as to the neighborhood and the community.”
The company hired architects Gerner, Kronick + Valcarcel (GKV) and international hotel and restaurant designer Martin Brudnizki to help it retain the building’s charm, structure and history. “We wanted people to have the feel as if you walked into it in 1881,” Rosen says.
The centerpiece of the 287-room hotel is a nine-story atrium with wrought-iron Victorian-era railings and a crowning pyramidal skylight. The atrium – which was closed and shuttered since the 1940s – was fully restored to its original glory and today houses the Atrium Bar Room. “This has now become the living room for the entire neighborhood,” he adds.
In addition to the Atrium Bar Room, the Beekman features restaurants operated by James Beard Award-winning chefs Tom Colicchio and Keith McNally. A new lounge, the Alley Cat – operated by veteran New York City club operator Serge Becker – opened April 6, 2018.
All of the Beekman’s amenities and attractions are designed to generate a positive buzz in the community. “We wanted to create an experience where people could come and hang out and bring their friends,“ CEO Allen Gross says.
The Beekman is just one of the latest example of GFI Hospitality’s overall development philosophy. “What we do very well is transform neighborhoods and increase the visibility of surrounding properties,” Gross says.
Other examples of the company’s work include redeveloping the former 180,000-square-foot Breslin Hotel – a 300-unit single-occupancy unit building in Manhattan’s Floral District – into the 287-unit Ace Hotel New York in 2007. The Ace Hotel has been dubbed “a neighborhood starter kit” by New York Magazine for the hotel’s innovative retail and food and beverage concepts. This was followed by the 168-room NoMad Hotel, which opened in 2012; and the 366-room James New York – NoMad Hotel, which opened in July of last year.
“We try to take a property and turn it into something unique and special, especially in neighborhoods that are challenging,” Gross says.
Based in downtown Manhattan, GFI Hospitality and its sister company, GFI Development, have also transformed properties in New Orleans, Louisiana and Palm Springs, Calif. Ongoing projects now under construction include hotel restorations in Detroit, transforming a historic cathedral in Denver, a ground up new hotel in downtown Brooklyn as well as two brand-new hotels in Kansas City.
In addition to development, GFI Hospitality provides asset management services to all of its hotels and to third-party owners of hotels and resorts. GFI Hospitality and GFI Development are affiliates of GFI Capital Resources Group, which also includes a construction company, Broadway Construction Group.
GFI Hospitality’s ability to attract top food and beverage talent and continually cultivate itsr banking relationships and investment partners allows it to create distinctive lifestyle destinations.
“We are proud of our ability to give back to the community,” Gross says. “Our projects, whether it’s ground-up construction in Brooklyn and Kansas City or restorations such as the Beekman or Ace, have not only transformed the communities they are in but created active lifestyle hubs that have brought people together.”
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