City Biz List | 04/04/2016
GFI Development Company today announced that ULI New York’s coveted 2017 “Excellence in Hotel Development” award was presented to The Beekman Hotel and Residences.
The award was bestowed on April 3 during ULI New York’s second annual Awards for Excellence in Development reception and dinner, where the organization recognized development projects that best exemplify a commitment to responsible land use and create sustainable, thriving communities.
The award reflects the vision demonstrated by the GFI Development team that developed the project, which included both rehabilitation and ground-up construction components.
ULI has celebrated excellence in development internationally since 1979, and the ULI New York Awards for Excellence in Development seek to recognize outstanding real estate development projects within the New York District Council’s geographic region, in both the private and public sectors. Judges participating on ULI New York’s awards committee include prominent figures in the city’s real estate, architecture, finance, academic, and government fields. The panelists were selected based on their dedication to responsible and inventive land use and proven ability to generate change in the industry.
“To be nominated for the award alongside Four Seasons and 1 Hotel is an immense honor on its own, but to be chosen from this group to receive such a prestigious accolade is unbelievable,” stated Allen Gross, Chairman & CEO of GFI Capital Resources Group. “This project was an extraordinary undertaking, as it presented an incredible opportunity as well as some major challenges. The results are nothing short of extraordinary, and I am very proud of our execution team, whose dedication turned this dream into reality.”
Built in 1881-1883 as one of the tallest buildings in New York City, The Beekman was a functioning office property for a century before falling into disrepair several decades ago. After remaining vacant for nearly 20 years, the property was acquired by an affiliate of GFI Development Company, which conceived of a plan to convert the historic building into a Thompson hotel with retail and restaurant space at the street level, while building a ground-up, 51-story residential tower on the adjacent lot.
“We are honored that the New York chapter of ULI has recognized The Beekman Hotel and Residences as an extraordinary project, recognizing the years of dedication we’ve invested into reinventing this iconic New York City structure,” said Steven Hurwitz, president of GFI Development Company. “As one of New York’s first high-rises, the building transformed Lower Manhattan more than a century ago, and — just months after opening — we’re already seeing The Beekman Hotel and Residences positively affecting the fabric of the city.”
In converting the landmark-designated building, GFI realized the necessity of finding somewhere to house modern technological infrastructure — to make it fully functional in the 21st century — without compromising the existing architecture. To solve this problem, the company purchased the neighboring parcel to construct a 51-story tower, which not only added 85 hotel rooms and 67 luxury condos, but which also houses the mechanical systems needed to efficiently run and operate the hotel. This allowed for the transformation of the existing building without compromising its historic nature or structural integrity.
The project also included the repair and restoration of the building envelope and the rehabilitation of the unique nine-story atrium and skylight. Built 130 years ago, the property’s atrium also posed serious fire safety issues that had to be dealt with in coordination with the Fire Department of New York. By utilizing innovative technology that had yet to be implemented anywhere in the United States, GFI was able to install innovative smoke curtains that ensure safety without compromising the beauty of the historic atrium.
When first built, The Beekman’s signature turrets set a trend for other properties in the area, such as the Woolworth building, to feature distinguished crowns. Now, as one of the most well-regarded new developments in the city, The Beekman is again leading a dramatic change in Lower Manhattan. The hotel boasts two restaurants, including Tom Colicchio’s critically-acclaimed Fowler & Wells, and Augustine by famed New York restaurateur Keith McNally.Since opening in September 2016, The Beekman has become a catalyst for future development in the Fulton-Nassau historic district. The hotel is a destination for locals and visitors from around the globe who wish to take a step back in time to relive late 19th century Victorian architecture.
“One of the most exciting aspects of real estate development is seeing your labor bear fruit, and this is particularly true when it comes to conversions and rehab projects,” said Hurwitz. “Just a few months after opening, our restaurants are pulsing with activity, and the hotel is one of the most sought-after spots for lodging in the entire city. It’s always exciting to see a landmark come back to life, and it’s particularly satisfying when you’ve played a role in restoring it to greatness.”