I Live NY: Debut of Q&A Residential Hotel Answers How

NEW YORK—Lower Manhattan’s Financial District is about to get more rooms inventory via a new brand from Furnished Quarters, a provider of temporary furnished apartment rentals.

Beginning Nov. 25, business and leisure travelers can book a studio; loft with office; or one- or two-bedroom accommodations at the Q&A Residential Hotel, a 132-unit facility occupying floors three through six at 70 Pine St., the landmark Art Deco building built in the early 1930s for the Cities Service Co., and more recently known as the American International Building. The mixed-use building, owned by a joint venture between Rose Associates and DTH Capital, also houses some 600 luxury apartments, restaurants and retail.

The new venture is the polar opposite of Furnished Quarters’ core model in terms of travelers’ length of stay. According to Steve Brown, CEO of Furnished Quarters, who started the company in 1998 with his brother, Gary, the existing Furnished Quarters model is geared toward stays of 30 days or longer. The brothers own some of the properties under G & S Brown Investments and, in other cases, net lease properties within buildings throughout the Northeast.

“We sign leases with landlords and we go in and furnish the apartments. We’re basically responsible for paying the rent, so we find corporate tenants who stay with us for 30 days or longer. These are residential apartments; they’re not allowed to stay less than 30 days. It’s not really extended-stay, but a full-service, doorman building… We work with corporate customers, travelers and all kinds of market segments,” said Brown.

In contrast, Q&A Residential Hotel allows guests to stay from one to 29 days. “One of the reasons for us opening this hotel is we will now have the ability for our guests to stay in an apartment/hotel for less than 30 days. At 70 Pine, our floors are zoned commercially, zoned for hotel, which allows us to do this. In New York City, in Manhattan per se, there are no other legal options for staying in an apartment environment for less than 30 days. They only way you can stay for less than 30 days—legally—is in a traditional hotel. So, this is, we feel, a new market segment, and an opportunity for our guests to experience the apartment/home living that they would in our regular business,” Brown added.

The Q&A Residential Hotel units range from 550 sq. ft. to 1,300 sq. ft., with approximately 11-ft. ceilings—matching the footprints of the residential units in the building—with interiors designed by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz in collaboration with the Furnished Quarters design team.

“These apartments feel very loft-like,” said Brown. “As a matter-of-fact, with two of our room types, we have one called Loft and one Loft/Home Office. They’re very unusual spaces.”

The units also will offer free WiFi, smart televisions, Bose audio systems, full kitchens and “tons of closets,” said Brown. A breakfast room offering complimentary continental breakfast, coffee and tea service; concierge services; and four dedicated Q&A elevators also are available.

The CEO added 70 Pine is a “very amenity-rich building” of which Q&A guests will be able to take advantage. Features include access to the building’s rooftop lounge; a 20,000-sq.-ft. fitness and wellness center; artisanal coffee bar; business center; private and shared work and conference spaces; valet laundry and dry-cleaning services; and a 13,000-sq.-ft. urban food market. A signature restaurant spanning floors 60 to 64 is under development by owner Ken Friedman and chef April Bloomfield of Manhattan restaurant, The Spotted Pig.

“Guests will have preferential access to this,” noted Robin Spindel, Furnished Quarters’ head of marketing. “And, there’s a gorgeous 360-degree view [the four floors have terraces]. It’s akin to an Empire State Building or Chrysler Building, with the spire at the top and gorgeous viewpoints.”

According to Craig Partin, chief sales officer for Furnished Quarters, rates at Q&A will be “competitive, for sure. We’re going to end up being at $350 to $450 a night during the higher seasons. But, again, it all depends on the length of stay; the longer you stay, the less it costs. And, if you’re one of our clients who uses us for longer stays at Furnished Quarters, you’ll get to leverage that buying power.”

Partin added the new brand expands the client base the company is now able to go after, ranging from a corporate traveler on assignment, to a European family planning to stay several weeks, to 20 company staffers coming in for a two-day meeting.

Brown touted the fact Q&A already has nailed enough business to exceed its projected budget for December. “We’re very excited. We’re getting very good response from each of our clients who walk through the building,” he said.

The CEO anticipates the new model will be the first of many. “We are hoping to extend this concept throughout the Northeast,” he said, noting the core business, Furnished Quarters, is predominantly a Northeast provider, although via a variety of partnerships also serves as a provider across the United States and internationally.

Brown indicated another Q&A in Manhattan and one in Boston, where Furnished Quarters has a significant presence, could be logical next steps. “Do we dream of other cities? Yes. DC, Philadelphia… Take a map of the Northeast, any urban center and stick a pin in it. We’ll see what opportunities present themselves,” he said.

—Stefani C. O’Connor