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Rockefeller Center Offices Could See Conversion To Luxury Aspen-Style Hotel

Rockefeller Center

A large chunk of vacant office space in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center could be converted into luxury hotel suites if the city approves a new plan from the complex's owners.

Aspen Hospitality is planning on converting 10 floors above NBC’s Today show studio into a luxury hotel totaling 130 rooms with a proposed delivery date of 2026, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The hotelier plans to bring its Colorado-based Little Nell Hotel to New York City, making it the second location for the brand and the first hotel to be located in Rockefeller Center. Aspen Hospitality is owned by the Crown family of Chicago, which is also a co-owner of Rockefeller Center with Tishman Speyer.

The proposal would take advantage of the special permitting process established in December 2021, requiring developers planning on expanding or building hotels to seek approval from the Department of City Planning and from New York City Council. The DCP is currently reviewing Aspen Hospitality’s plans.

Aspen Hospitality, previously known as The Little Nell Hotel Group, was founded in 1989 and rebranded at the beginning of this year. It currently has seven hotels across Colorado and Idaho including five star, five diamond The Little Nell in Aspen, and has two more hotel properties — including its first California hotel — currently under development.

Tishman Speyer and Aspen had discussed collaborating on a hotel on the property for several years, Paula Crown told the WSJ. 

“It’s not a business hotel, it’s not a resort hotel,” she said. "Like how the world has gone, it has hybrid components.”

The 14-building office component of Rockefeller Center, which includes Tishman Speyer's headquarters and a number of studios used by NBCUniversal, is 93% leased, according to the WSJ.

The conversion plans come as Midtown Manhattan office owners seek to diversify their property uses and tenants. Office occupancy in NYC is hovering at around 45%, according to data from Kastle Systems, leaving office landlords in limbo.

Rockefeller Center buildings are between 50% and 60% occupied, Tishman Speyer told the WSJ, but it has had success courting retail tenants, including bookstore McNally Jackson, record store Rough Trade and menswear brand Todd Synder, as well as adding restaurants like Italian outfit Lodi and French eatery Le Rock to Rockefeller Center.

Other office landlords are exploring avenues beyond retail. Nearby, SL Green is angling for one of the casino licenses that New York state will award to the city, proposing converting the 1515 Broadway office building in Times Square to a 950-room hotel and a 250K SF casino as part of its plans.