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The Watson Hotel has been sold for an estimated $175m, just as Mayor Bill de Blasio pledges to end its use as a temporary homeless shelter. The 600-room hotel, on W57th Street between 9/10th Avenue, was one of over 130 New York hotels used for homeless accommodation during the pandemic.

The Watson Hotel is a “Hell’s Kitchen secret” with its large rooftop swimming pool.

Crain’s reported that The Watson was bought by Yellowstone Real Estate Investments, and said that the deal was a sign of the market for New York City hotels thawing. Yellowstone’s chief Issac Hera acknowledged the sale but would not comment publicly on the price. In an email, Hera described the Watson deal as “a unique and rare opportunity to acquire substantial scale on West 57 Street”. The sale was made by HSBC who sought a buyer after the previous owner of the hotel had defaulted on a loan to the bank.

At $175 million, it would make Watson Hotel’s price tag the most expensive deal in Manhattan since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The previous highest was the $150 million paid for the Surrey Hotel on E76th St. 

The sale comes on the back of improving vaccination figures across the country boosting hopes for a lodgings rebound in the second half of this year. In addition experts are expecting people to spend on getaways and businesses to have staff travel around the country.

Emergency Service vehicles were a familiar sight outside The Watson Hotel during the pandemic.

During the pandemic, The Watson has one of over 130 New York hotels used as a temporary homeless shelter, attracting complaints from Hell’s Kitchen locals about residents using drugs, committing crimes and other anti-social behavior. Yesterday, Mayor Bill de Blasio committed to stopping this use of hotels and returning the homeless to their purpose-built shelters.

“The goal is to get out of all hotels everywhere,” said de Blasio. “I am anxious to set a timeline as to when we can get folks back to the shelter.”

The Watson was formerly a Holiday Inn hotel and has a rooftop pool described as being “huge for a standard NYC rooftop”. The new owner has not ruled out the potential of redeveloping the site for offices or apartments.

Join the Conversation

12 Comments

  1. When the Holiday was a hotel they let the neighborhood pay a fee for seasonal use. It was a quiet spot to enjoy the summer. Maybe that pleasure could be returned if the use of the other spaces below were sold or rented with membership in pool included.

  2. I lived on W. 57th and had a neighbor pass to the pool. Vacant on weekdays, crowded on weekends. Loved it.

  3. Does anyone know what would happen to the hotel staff ? My mom worked here for like 26 years. I had some great summers here as a kid.

  4. So sad to see the direction The Watson went in during the pandemic. Very destructive NYC leadership decisions. We had several great summer visits to The Watson and loved the cool pool area after long days walking. You can bet The Watsonwill be converted but it won’t be easy to get the current residents out.

  5. Absolutely depressing to hear what they’ve done with the hotel. It was once a beautiful place to stay during my visits to the city. New York’s leaders should be ashamed for what they’ve done to the once greatest city on earth.

  6. Even though it was huge The Watson wasnt that well known so it was almost a unique bargain in NYC considering the location size of rooms and the roof pool.All that for the price of a shoe box a the chi chi NYC boutique places.

  7. I’ve stayed there during numerous NYC visits when it was a Holiday Inn and then The Watson. Cleanliness and orderliness declined thru the years, during most stays the wifi in the room worked only 40% of the time, this was very frustrating because I had work to do early in the morning and late at night. I once spent 1.5 hours on the phone with one of the IT guys trying to resolve one of many connection problems. The appearance of all elevators was dirty and depressing. Front staff some were nice, others were very rude and impatient. However, the location cannot be beat. I hope the group that bought it will operate it again as a hotel after they clean out and replace everything that was wrong with this now very old hotel. (4/10/22)

  8. I was there when it was a Days Inn. Not bad, but also not very good. I will always remember the smell of the pest control in the bathroom.

  9. sad indeed, great memories of this place when it was Holiday Inn, inexpensive big rooms for NYC, cheap bar. Wife and I used to “treat” ourselves to a couple nights in a row when the rates were low rather than having to commute on NJ transit! It actually made sense!
    Jake’s, little Thai place on 9th…

  10. Interesting how quickly the conversation, both in the article and the comments, ignores the homeless. I can’t stomach the comment by De Blasio, “I am anxious to set a timeline as to when we can get folks back to the shelter.”

    Back to the SHELTER??? First, the shelters are a terrible place for anyone. And there are many, most especially queer folks, who can’t stay in shelters because they’re attacked and have no recourse so it’s not a safe place for them to stay.

    Give them!!!!! Fucking!!!!! HOMES!!!!!!

    Look around this city! How many apartments sit vacant? How many entire residential buildings are erected as tax shelters for the super wealthy?

    And yet we just did another military sweep of encampments, wiping them off our streets as if they have anywhere else to go but back on the streets.

    How quickly each and every one of us would care about this issue of we were to suddenly find ourselves on the streets, as most any of us very easily could.

    A sign of ANY responsible society is how we treat the least of those among us. We should make housing our homeless an absolute priority!

  11. I grew up on W 57th in the late 60s-early70s. First at 421 right across the street from Holiday Inn/The Watson, then down the street at 315.
    My wife, mom, and I stayed a week at The Watson in 2019 and we LOVED it.
    Yeah, it was a little scruffy in the elevators, etc.
    But it was on my old street, close to everything I needed it to be.
    I thought I’d always stay there whenever visiting the city, with a room view of my old apartment window across the street.
    I’m heartbroken that we won’t be staying there for our 2022 visit, it was perfect for us.

  12. My daughter and I stayed at The Watson several times during visits to NYC. Yes, it may have been a bit dated, but it was clean, the staff amazing, and close to venues we frequented. It’s very sad to learn of its demise.

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