Tommy Hilfiger no longer owns his eponymous clothing brand—though he still is the principal designer—so now he's spreading out into non-clothing directions. First up? A hotel in the MetLife Clock Tower off Madison Square. Hilfiger and his partners are thisclose to buying the building at the foot of Madison Avenue—at 700" feet it was the tallest building in the world from 1909-1913—for $170 million dollars.
Hilfiger, who sold his company for $4 billion (and just opened a pop-up store in the Meatpacking District), has reportedly been shopping around for a place to open his, presumably preppy, new hotel for a while now. Other spots he looked at included the old Times building to the Chelsea Hotel.
Turning the MetLife Clock Tower, a gorgeous office building that riffs on the Campanile in Venice, into a hotel is just one of many options the building has faced in the past decade. Before the recession hit it was supposed to become a high-end condo building with interiors designed by Versace. At another point Ian Shrager and RFR Holdings were looking to do their own condo conversion in the building. It is unclear how many rooms the Hilfiger Hotel (or whatever it is called) will have but a smaller condo conversion for the building is not out of the question, sources tell the Journal.
But for now, it seems that going mostly hotel is a safer bet then doing a pricey full condo renovation. “A hotel play is much safer than if he was planning a condo conversion,” Ben Thypin, director of market analysis for Real Capital Analytics, told the Times. “There’s a lot of development action around Madison Square.”
The deal, which was reportedly done quickly off-market and without a broker, is the second big move in as many weeks for the buildings current owner, Africa Israel. Last week the company sold 11 floors of the former New York Times building to the Blackstone Group for $160 million.
One thing though? We can't imagine the Hilfiger Hotel, when it eventually opens, is going to have any patience for some of the events that go down nearby the building. Can you imagine how a tourist would react if right outside the hotel lobby was something like the Big Apple BBQ?