They paved paradise and put up a Hard Rock Hotel.
A block of West 48th Street in Manhattan once known as Mecca for musicians of every stripe but especially rockers, will soon be home to New York’s first Hard Rock Hotel. The stretch between Sixth Avenue and Broadway was for decades known as Music Row, anchored by Manny’s and Sam Ash musical instrument emporiums. Here one might hear a Beatle or a Stone, a Hendrix or a Zimmerman, trying out the latest from Fender, Gibson, Gretsch or Rickenbacker, not to mention countless just-musicians testing their chops against new gear in a friendly zone, before skyrocketing rents and bigger retailers like the Guitar Center shut the last of them down, opening up the street to real estate speculators.
In the latest development, Hard Rock International announced Monday plans to build its latest destination hotel on the street, in a parcel assembled by real estate entrepreneur Gary Barnett’s Extell organization. The planned 445-room Hard Rock Hotel New York will “breathe new life into Music Row and recapture the legacy of this historic location,” the company announced, apparently without irony.
The announcement put to rest one rumor that had the hotel going into another high-profile Extell Development Company parcel on Eighth Avenue between 45th and 46th streets, a site also mentioned as a possible development to include a new Broadway theater.
The new hotel will rise on the north side of the block, directly opposite the Cort Theatre, one of the few Shubert Organization properties that still retains transfer rights to the air above its landmarked space. Such a transfer could be useful to a developer looking to build even higher towers in a neighborhood that has seen its once human scale change dramatically in recent years, as more towers have sprung up throughout the Broadway Theater District.
“We’re both proud and eager to showcase the Hard Rock Hotels experience in New York City, a destination whose spirit and limitless energy aligns perfectly with our brand,” Hamish Dodds, chief executive officer at Hard Rock International, said in the announcement. “With Hard Rock Hotel New York being an entirely new build project, we are able to develop a hotel with customized amenities and programming that will deliver a one of a kind music experience tailored for New York City.”
The new hotel will “honor the City’s musical and cultural heritage with live music events and artist-inspired design elements,” according to the announcement. “With Hard Rock International’s standing as curators of the world’s largest and most priceless music memorabilia collection, the hotel’s design will feature museum-like displays adorning the walls. Memorabilia for the hotel will be carefully selected with a focus on contemporary artists who call New York home, as well as iconic musicians and pivotal moments in history that have shaped the city’s undisputed musical legacy.”
Promised features include an “invigorating Rock Spa featuring the revolutionary Rhythm & Motion spa menu offering modernized, music-infused Swedish massage practices and treatments. Guests will also enjoy firsthand music experiences through the signature Sound of Your Stay music amenity program, allowing for Fender guitar and DJ-equipment rental delivered in-room for impromptu jam sessions.”
“Hard Rock’s Hotel & Casino expansion strategy demands dynamic and knowledgeable developers, such as Gary Barnett and the Extell group, and we look forward to seeing the project flourish with their expertise,” says Marco Roca, executive vice president of global hotel development at Hard Rock International. “The opening of Hard Rock Hotel New York, along with the completion of properties in Berlin and Dubai, as well as soon to be announced projects in other major gateway cities, present a huge milestone for the brand and further solidify its standing as a global hotel collection.”