Following its U.S. launch in Tempe, Ariz., Marriott International’s Moxy brand is continuing its rollout across the country. New York City alone is poised to get five hotels flying the lifestyle brand’s flag, with the first due to open this summer. Four of these properties will be funded by Lightstone, a Manhattan-based real estate investor/developer. Most recently, Lightstone purchased several buildings in the city’s East Village neighborhood for $72.5 million to develop a 285-guestroom Moxy hotel, in partnership with Marriott.
While Lightstone has several Moxys in the works throughout the city, this location was particularly important for the millennial-focused brand. “We were actively looking for a Moxy location in either the East Village or Union Square area,” Lightstone President Mitchell Hochberg said. “The site is in the East Village, only three blocks from Union Square.” The neighborhood is famous for its youth culture and music scene, making it ideal for a brand geared toward a younger generation. The location also puts the hotel directly across the street from the popular Webster Hall concert venue, and a short walk from New York University, Hochberg said.
The purchase included several buildings on both East 11th Street and East 10th Street. “This was a particularly unusual acquisition in that we bought a portfolio of multifamily buildings with the intention of demolishing four of them, and selling one to an investor,” Hochberg said. “We have now sold the building which fronted on 10th Street, and are in the process of demolishing the four on 11th Street. In total, this was a much larger acquisition than was necessary to develop the hotel, but it was the only way we could acquire a site in this prime location.”
East Village’s Appeal
The East Village was one of the “most exciting locations” for a Moxy Hotel in Manhattan, Hochberg continued. The Moxy brand, like Hilton’s soon-to-launch Tru and AccorHotels’ Jo&Joe hostel brand in Europe, is geared toward the millennial demographic. In these hotels, the guestrooms are small and the guests are encouraged to socialize in public spaces.
The overall Moxy concept, Hochberg said, was inspired by high-end cruise ships. “Look at a luxury cruise ship and look at how small the room is, but how thoughtfully designed and tastefully appointed it is,” he said. “Why does it work on a cruise ship? Because you’re not spending that much time in the room. But the finishes are beautiful, it’s well-designed and well thought-out. Why can’t you consider a hotel a cruise ship turned on its side?”
Like a cruise ship, he said, New York’s Moxy hotels will have large public spaces with activities for the guests. “They can go out and enjoy the city that they’re in and enjoy amenities the property has as well.”
I’ll Take Manhattan
Lightstone plans to develop 1,500 Moxy hotel rooms in New York City, including the brand’s 612-room flagship U.S. property, which is scheduled to open later this year. Each property, Hochberg said, would reflect its location. The flagship location, just south of Times Square, will be the largest of the four hotels at 612 guestrooms, and will have a wide range of both food-and-beverage options and activities for the “crossroads of the world.” The location in the NoMad district will be slightly smaller at 350 guestrooms, with a design inspired by the local “flower district” and a restaurant with an indoor-outdoor rooftop bar. “The 11th Street Moxy is designed with a very East Village vernacular—thinking about the history of music, rock and roll, and Webster Hall just across the street,” Hochberg said.
“We think there is an opportunity for four hotels because they cater to different clientele interested in staying in different locations,” he continued. “In many ways, Manhattan is a small island, but it’s also a place of incredible diversity. When you look at the market today, someone that wants to stay in the center of Times Square is looking for a very different experience than someone looking to stay in the East Village. We want to be sure that each guest can get the experience they’re looking for.”
At the same time, he said, one of the elements that attracted Lightstone to the Moxy brand was the ability to appeal to a broad demographic. “In each hotel, we’ve worked hard to create environments that are unique and special, but that still appeal to a wide array of guests,” he said.
Lightstone is developing seven Moxy properties across the country. Beyond the four New York City hotels, the company is behind the upcoming Moxys in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, downtown Los Angeles and West Hollywood.