Mr. C Hotels sailing into NYC’s Seaport

NEW YORK—Well known in sophisticated circles in Beverly Hills, the independent Mr. C Hotels will be bringing its luxury brand to the East Coast later this year, opening its second hotel at the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan, adjacent the Financial District.

Bob and Alex Ghassemieh, the developers behind the West Coast hotel, are reprising their role with the Seaport property, which is owned by affiliates of the Los Angeles hotel. And as at the Los Angeles hotel, Mr. C Seaport will be operated by the internationally known Cipriani family, who opened the legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, in 1931.

Stepping in to wrangle the 66-room hotel are fourth-generation Cipriani brothers, Maggio and Ignazio, millennials who founded Mr. C Hotels in 2011 and are now helping run the family business. 

Located at the corner of Front St. and Peck Slip, Mr. C Seaport will occupy the site once held by the Best Western Seaport Inn. The hotel was bought in early 2016 for $38.3 million by The Howard Hughes Corp., which currently is transforming the 11-block Seaport District via a $1.5-billion redevelopment project that also includes reinventing the Seaport’s iconic Pier 17, the landmarked Tin Building and the Fulton Market Building.

According to Maggio Cipriani, the  family enterprise has been on the lookout “for quite some time” for the right property in New York, and a few different sites were offered for the family to consider. 

“When we came along this building, the combination of a charming unique area close to the waterfront, the exciting redevelopment in the works by The Howard Hughes Corp. and interesting historic architecture all contributed to make the Seaport project the perfect choice,” he said.

“New York is one of the top destinations for leisure and business travel so it seemed quite natural to extend the Mr. C brand to the city, where our family has already a large presence with different projects,” said Ignazio Cipriani, alluding to such holdings as its venues at 55 Wall St., 25 Broadway and 110 East 42 St., restaurants and residences. “With our first L.A. location we have become the home away from home for many travelers from Europe, the States and around the world, and we are confident that old and new customers will appreciate this comfortable and timeless concept coming to New York.”

The Seaport District itself seems somewhat timeless. With roots going back to 1625, the area is the site of some of Manhattan’s oldest architecture. The hotel site itself, at 33 Peck Slip, is historic. Developer Bob Ghassemieh noted the five-story, red-brick building’s exterior is landmarked, and it has two stories of recessed guestrooms with balconies. “We have been committed to preserve it during the renovation process and worked together with the Landmark Commission,” he said.

Danish architect Thomas Juul-Hansen is leading the hotel’s design, said to be a mix of “European glamour and nautical expressions,” and the building is undergoing an interior reconstruction.

Rooms, including 10 premium suites with terraces, will be equipped with teak veneer, rain showers, 50-in. interactive televisions and Italian linens. In addition, a lobby lounge will feature drinks and afternoon tea, and a signature dining experience. Private function space and fitness facilities also will be available.

In how the property will reflect a “sense of place,” Ignazio Cipriani noted the Mr. C brand is about “an understated and comfortable elegance, and a design that is timeless and reminiscent of an Old World simplicity. In this specific project, the proximity to the waterfront, the feel of the neighborhood with its cobblestone streets and the memory of an active maritime and commercial hub, lead to many nautical elements in the decor, the colors and the materials. High-polished teak, white leather, stainless steel and warm velvet characterize the interiors with all the furniture being custom made in Italy by Tedeschi USA.”

While The Howard Hughes Corp.’s vision for the area has changed and been somewhat scaled back since it first started implementing its plans for the District several years ago, the current plans still call for creating more than 400,000 sq. ft. of culinary, cultural, entertainment and fashion offerings. Some of these include Italian fashion store 10 Corso Como; a 50,000-sq.-ft. food market by Jean-Georges Vongerichten in the restored Tin Building; and an iPic Theater, which opened last year. Pier 17 will feature a 1.5-acre rooftop that will include a restaurant, outdoor bars and a venue for special events.

With all the activity in the area, Maggio Cipriani expressed confidence that the timing was right on the Mr. C Seaport project, noting, “The addition of this hospitality piece could not happen at a better time.”

Ignazio Cipriani added the hotel is on schedule to open at the end of this year. “Yes, as of now, we are respecting our deadlines,” he said, hinting more Mr. C’s would follow the Manhattan hotel’s debut.

“We are already exploring different locations in gateway cities in the United States, Europe and the Middle East,” said Maggio Cipriani. “We really think that it is a unique, independent concept that should appeal to a variety of confident travelers who are looking to spend some quality time in beautiful, comfortable surroundings, receive excellent service and take full advantage of the vibrant neighborhood and the great views.”