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About Concierge

Glass hotel tower reflects the new Lower East Side

The Villager
By Lincoln Anderson
Published October 23, 2002

                     If the historic, mythic Lower East Side of yore is gone and, as some say, ready for its figurative tombstone, there is no more obvious sign of the shape of things to come than the steel skeleton on Rivington St. rising above the tenement rooftops. When completed, it will be a 20-story, 115-room, luxury hotel guaranteed to offer spectacular views. The developer, Paul Stallings, thinks the view of the $30 million building will be attractive from the outside, as well, with it sheathed in glass panels of different shapes and opacities in what he describes as a "Mondrianesque" style. The glass sheathing could start going up in as soon as five to six weeks, he said. The hotel will feature larger than average, about double-size rooms, of 400 sq. ft. Over half of the rooms will have balconies and many will be corner rooms with views in two directions. The building has a 20-ft. setback from Rivington St. at the seventh floor and four-ft. setbacks at the 15th, 16th and 18th floors. Some air rights from neighboring buildings were used and it cantilevers six feet over the low-rise Grace Unisex Hair Salon building to its west. Stallings didn't want to give away the hotel's name, which is 90 percent settled, but he said Rivington, which he called a "classy, interesting"-sounding street name, has got to be a part of it. The site is located between Essex and Ludlow Sts., just a half block from the First Roumanian-American Synagogue, which struggles nightly to get a minyan, and the historic Essex St. Market, where pushcart vendors once sold their wares. The Lower East Side of today is a far cry from that pushcart era. In recent years, the area has seen an influx of trendy boutiques, bars and restaurants. Stallings, 50, says the hotel, slated to open in summer 2003, will cater those that are drawn to the area's new scene, including Europeans and entertainment and music types. Unlike the nearby synagogue, he doesn't anticipate any problems filling the hotel. "The whole Lower East Side area is a scene that's coming alive," Stallings said in an interview on Monday. "It's certainly more alive than Soho. It'll be a logical extension of what's going on there now." Quirky stores and new restaurants, like Moby's vegan cafe, Teany, are attracting people to the neighborhood for a different sort of experience. Across the street from the future hotel last Saturday night a group of middle-aged women exited Babes in Toyland, a sex books and gadgets store, with their purchases. "We all got sex toys!" one of them said as they laughed. Stallings said the hotel's rooms will be set up to allow for flexibility for long-term stay potential, for corporate accounts, and will be equipped with facilities like a small refrigerator, "little cook top" and microwave. Stallings said he plans to partner with "a fairly well-known local New York hotel operator" to operate the hotel. Stallings would not reveal who this is, but did quash strong neighborhood rumors that it would be a W Hotel. Literally, everyone within a few blocks of the project, from residents to restaurant owners, seems to think or have heard it will be a W. Curious, literally, all of them have contacted friends and friends of friends and relatives who either work for W or are in the hotel or travel industry to check it out. "No, I can dispel that rumor," Stallings said definitively. "It's not going to be the W. I don't know where that came from." There was also a rumor that the bottom 10 floors would be a hotel and the top 10 floors condominiums, but that's also false, he said. The hotel will feature a 5,000-sq.-ft. restaurant on the ground floor, a gym (without a pool) and a rooftop entertainment space for parties, catering and special events. This is Stallings' first hotel and what he calls the "culmination of a lifetime of Lower East Side development. This is very personal for me." Over the past 20 years, the Midwestern transplant has been one of the larg

Steelwork for new hotel is already 19 stories tall on Rivington St.

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