Istithmar Hotels has announced the acquisition of the classic, Beaux-Arts style Knickerbocker Hotel located in Times Square, NY. Commenting on its latest acquisition, Muneef Tarmoom, Chief Executive Officer, Istithmar PJSC said: “Knickerbocker is a premier property in one of the world’s most recognized locations. The most fascinating thing about this property is not its design but its history.” He added, “Given Istithmar’s focus on international gateway cities such as New York, the Istithmar team has worked tirelessly to identify this unique opportunity to acquire a property with the ability of conversion into a five star hotel. This acquisition represents a key step forward for Istithmar Hotels.”
Located in the heart of Manhattan on the southeast corner of Broadway and 42nd Street, it is today also known as 6 Times Square. Built in the early 1900s, Knickerbocker was one of midtown’s premier hotels and one of the tallest buildings on Times Square. It was converted into an office property in the 1950s.
David Jackson, Chief Investment Officer, Istithmar PJSC said: “The company’s primary focus is growth and asset appreciation through a diverse portfolio in the hospitality and leisure sector. This reinstates our commitment to real estate acquisitions internationally in major global markets and our desire to invest in truly exceptional opportunities.”
There has been a significant increase in the number of tourists visiting the city. According to a recent study, the traffic in 2005 increased to a record 41.0 million, up 2.8% over 2004 and up 16.1% from 2002’s 35.3 million. As the main tourist destination in Manhattan, Times Square has significantly benefited from the unprecedented strength in demand.
Speaking on the occasion, Joe Sita, Chief Executive Officer, Istithmar Hotels said: “Istithmar has been reviewing the NY market in the recent past with the intention of acquiring a hotel property, specifically in Times Square. Since this market is extremely buoyant with the area becoming one of the preferred destinations for tourists, the hotel sector has seen a level of performance that we expect to grow.”
Further commenting on the transaction, Richard Johnson, Head of Real Estate, Istithmar, said: “The Times Square area is also a sought after location for other property types. We see growth opportunities in several sectors in and around Times Square. In particular the absence of high quality hotels in the Times Square area gives us a huge opportunity to develop this area, making it highly compelling.”