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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.
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.
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.