Banking on guests

New residential hotel AKA Wall Street taps the area’s rising profile as cultural, retail and dining destination

The restaurant scene on Stone Street
The restaurant scene on Stone Street

The narrow streets of the Financial District, where glimpses of buildings appear at odd angles, can be a bit discombulating for a visitor. It is sort of like wandering into an Escher painting.

But developers of new residential hotel AKA Wall Street, which opened in late June and overlooks the Treasury Building where Maiden meets William, are banking on the area’s growing attraction to travelers. Lower Manhattan is experiencing a wave of new hotels as the area continues to broaden from a business center to a more cultural destination, drawing visitors to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the Skyscraper Museum, the Museum of Jewish Heritage as well as the restaurant scene on Stone Street and nearby Battery Park City’s promenade.

But this is still the Financial District, where business is the order of the day. Better transportation infrastructure at Fulton Center and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub is spurring businesses to relocate to the area, which is increasing demand for hotels, including extended-stay properties.

Fidi isn’t as congested as other parts
of the city, but that is expected to change.

Hotels catering to business travelers in the neighborhood include boutique hotels like Andaz Wall Street and Gild Hall. Last year, Q&A Residential Hotel opened at 70 Pine Street, a 66-story art deco landmark. A multi-floor rooftop restaurant from April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman of The Spotted Pig renown is opening at Q&A in 2017 and expected to draw a celebrity crowd.

There were still sheets of paper taped to the floor of the lobby and workers were finishing the amenity spaces on a visit to AKA Wall Street less than a month before its offical opening. Built in 1907, the former Royal Insurance Company building was most recently used as a dorm for Pace University students. The hotel required a gut renovation, a project that took two years, but features like the building’s circular staircase and its distinctive curved façade remain.

Intended for stays of one week or longer, AKA Wall Street has 126 fully furnished units, including studios, one-bedrooms, two bedrooms and penthouses that feature contemporary furnishings and Frette bedding. Studios have large entertainment units that divide the sleeping and sitting areas. Introductory rates start at $428.

While the hotel brand typically caters to international business travelers and families, guests can also include people receiving medical treatment, relocating or going through a divorce.

Larry Korman, president of AKA and co-CEO of Korman Communities, developed AKA Wall Street, its fifth property in New York City. He said his timing was right for Fidi. “Had we opened a year ago, it would have been too early,” he said. “A year from now would be too late.”

Korman is a major movie buff and his hotels AKA Sutton Place, AKA Wall Street and AKA Central Park have screening rooms. AKA Wall Street will have two, one indoor and one outdoor. A longtime supporter of the Tribeca Film Festival, AKA is in talks with the festival to host screening events at its new Downtown location.

As a destination, Fidi was “untapped,” he said. Luxury retailers have opened at Brookfield Place and high-end restaurants are making their way to the area, such as Nobu, which is exiting its Tribeca home after 20 years and moving to Fidi in 2017.

And Fidi “isn’t as congested” as the locations of the other AKA properties, in Central Park, Times Square, Sutton Place and near the United Nations. “But that will change in the next few years,” Korman said.