The W brand is well-known around the world. It recently announced openings in Las Vegas, Hollywood, South Beach, Phoenix, Vieques and Barcelona. Currently, there are W Hotels in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu, Silicon Valley, San Diego, Atlanta, Mexico City, Seoul, Montreal, and Sydney.
Hoboken's 25-story hotel, which will be the city's tallest building, will take around two years to complete. It will include 225 rooms and 37 luxury condominium residences, each boasting unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline.
Currently, there are no hotels in Hoboken. The closest hotels are on the waterfronts of Weehawken and Jersey City.
Hoboken-based Applied will develop and own the facility which, when completed, will be operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Starwood is based in White Plains, N.Y. In addition to the W brand, the company operates other hotels, including the Sheraton, St. Regis, and Westin chains. In New Jersey, Starwood operates 13 hotels including the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel and Conference Center, the Weston Princeton at Forrestal Village, and the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel.
Michael Barry, an Applied principal, said that he is proud that Starwood is bringing the "W" brand to Hoboken. Barry called that brand the "the shining star of [Starwood's] portfolio."
"We have set out to build New Jersey's finest hotel, and one of the finest in the country," Barry said. "This structure will occupy a special place on the Hoboken skyline and will give this fantastic city something to truly be proud of - a hotel I think the entire state will be proud of."
The upscale hotel will feature the brand's signature "W Living Room experience" - a bar with panoramic Manhattan views, a destination restaurant, a 5,000 square-foot Bliss Spa, and a fitness facility and more than 11,000 square feet of meeting space, according to Ross Klein, president of W Hotels Worldwide.
A Hoboken story
During Wednesday's groundbreaking, U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez recognized the role that Applied Development had played in Hoboken's transformation from a downtrodden community to one of the hottest real estate markets in the state.
The Applied Development Company is Hoboken's largest locally owned developer. Thirty years ago, the company saw value in Hoboken when few others did. In the 1970s, Hoboken was a blighted city, with factories closing down and the shipping industry gone. Applied decided to build thousands of units of affordable housing. Since then, Applied has also built luxury housing on the waterfronts of Hoboken and Jersey City. In Hoboken, their newer residential projects include the Shipyard complex on the city's northern waterfront and 333 River St., which is across from the site of the W.
"The Applied Companies have been at the forefront of transforming the city," Menendez said, "from the Hoboken that had been forgotten and whose luster had been lessened to some degree, into the Hoboken that it is today. It was the Applied Companies that began the rebirth of Hoboken through its brownstone efforts, through its affordable housing effort, and will now bring the city full circle with a luxury hotel like a W."
Menendez also praised Mayor David Roberts for his long support of the project.
"Mayor Roberts has had a vision, and it was matched by a company that is going to make it a reality," Menendez said.
Even before Starwood signed on, Roberts had almost weekly said publicly that he wanted a W Hotel. Along the way, there were many who doubted that the city and Applied could deliver.
"There were many people that didn't think this was going to happen," Roberts said. "During the course of the last municipal election, I heard almost every day that there was no way that [Hoboken] would be getting a W Hotel. But now we have done it."
Roberts added that he has never been prouder to be the city's mayor.
"Being a guy that grew up here, who has spent my entire life in one city, it's been wonderful watching the evolution of our city as we proceed to take our place among New Jersey's finest cities," Roberts said.
Gwathmey Siegel Architects has been hired to design the 275-foot tall building. The firm is known for its modernist landmarks, ranging from the minimalist addition to Frank Lloyd Wright's spiraling Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami. The firm has also designed Morgan Stanley's worldwide headquarters at Times Square.
Charles Gwathmey was a finalist in the competition to design the buildings at the World Trade Center site. He was part of the so-called "dream team" of New York architects that also included Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, and Steven Holl.
"We then went and sought an architect to give this project the heart soul and body of a world class hotel," Barry said. "To that end, we engage the world renowned Charles Gwathemy and Bob Siegel. You can see from the rendering that these two gentlemen are without equal."
Excited about job creation
Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise said that one the biggest benefits of this project is that it will create jobs for local residents. According to officials from Applied, the hotel will have a staff of about 200 hotel employees. DeGise said that Hudson County has been blessed with a significant amount of new office construction over the past decade. But he added that while office construction creates space for thousands of employees, the companies that occupy these buildings usually bring their own people for those jobs. Only about 10 percent of those jobs are taken by local residents, said DeGise.
"The one exception to that rule is hotels," DeGise said. "At the five new hotels that are along Washington Boulevard in Jersey City, 75 percent of the people that are working in those hotels are local residents; many of them are minority residents. The economic impact of a new hotel coming into a community is greater than anything else. These are new jobs being created."