Welcome To Chez Gay!

20 Feb

Manhattan’s latest (and largest?) venture in gay real estate.

Tired of only LGBT friendly resorts, the city of New York, a.k.a one of the gay capitals of the world, entered last month into talks regarding its very first gay boutique hotel.

This new and exciting real estate project, headed by power gay couple and real estate investment partners Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass of Parkview Developers, is slated for construction in Hell’s Kitchen on West 42nd Street. It hopes to take over and renovate a former run down motel and homeless shelter and become the jumpstart of a new wave of vibrancy in the currently sleeping neighborhood.

Renogaytion of the Proposed Site

In addition to 123 moderately priced rooms, gym, spa, and 24-hour restaurant, the hotel also plans to be home to a 10,000 square-foot, 650-person capacity ground-floor gay club, which will be spearheaded by gay-club guru John Blair.

As a real estate aficionado and gay Manhattanite myself, this riveting piece of news should have had me counting down the days until the hotel’s grand opening.  Instead, further research on the endeavor made my feelings of gushing excitement turn to ones of ambivalence.

Unfortunately, the hotel has currently been given the fateful name of Out NYC. As Reisner comments,

“Like, ‘Come out! Let’s go out and play!'”

Lack of sophistication aside, the name truly disappoints, as it reads like a rather blatant marker of difference.  Sure, we’re getting the very first hotel specifically geared to the gay community in the city, but must that fact be displayed in the hotel’s signage?  Would members of the gay community really have such a hard time weeding out the one gay hotel in the city if it had a less telling name that was simply nondescript? While no gay individual would really think twice about staying at a Hilton or a Standard, I’m still grappling with the idea of any straight couple eagerly wanting to stay in the Out NYC, despite the hotel’s plan to promote itself as all orientation-inclusive.

In addition, early design plans reveal that all aspects of the hotel will revolve around three centrally glassed-in courtyards—in other words—guests at the pool, Jacuzzi, spa, restaurant, and bar will be visible to everyone else at all times.  Having just visited the New York High Line where creepy men with cameras sometimes wait for shots of naked guests in The Standard Hotel windows, this new hotel layout, conceived by architect Paul Dominguez, worries me with visions of uncomfortable voyeurism. Will a family with small children (gay or straight) really feel safe here?

Lastly, it is important to note that the hotel would be situated across the street from a police station.  As a result, it is absolutely necessary for the Out NYC and its nightclub to crack down on creating a safe and clean environment—keeping it free of drugs and suspicious activities.

In the end, I’m all for the idea of Manhattan’s first gay hotel, but I believe that with its construction we have the ability to paint a positive image of the gay community—one that’s fun and inviting to a broad demographic including gay singles, gay families and straight people.

With some rethinking and reinvention, the Out NYC (please insert new name here) has the opportunity to be revolutionary, but until it receives the proper legal permission and licensing to go ahead and build, I will wait in unease.

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