Developer Morris Monian scraps plan for luxury hotel at 1150 Sixth Ave.

Developer Morris Moinian has checked out of a longstanding plan to build a luxury hotel at 1150 Sixth Ave. at a time when the city’s room-surplus problem only continues to worsen.

Moinian’s Fortuna Realty tapped a JLL team led by Bob Knakal to sell the midblock site, now an empty lot, on the avenue’s east side between West 44th and 45th streets. It was a surprise, as Moinian, who filed plans for the project five years ago, told us in October that he was almost ready to build.

Knakal called it a “great development site with approved plans to build a hotel there which a new owner could use or not.”

He said Fortuna is hoping for a sale “in the mid-$90 millions or north of $600 per square foot.” Several offers have already come in, he said. Moinian bought the site in 2012 for $39 million.

Knakal said that zoning allows a number of possible uses at the location, including a “combo hotel-retail project or a boutique office building.”

Sixth Avenue is on a roll from 34th Street to Central Park South, with the lowest office vacancy rate of any major commercial corridor and several new hotels, stores and showrooms either open or soon to come.

Moinian’s planned hotel, designed by Ismael Leyva, was to rise 26 stories or 426 feet and have 310 suites, as well as a restaurant, ballroom, rooftop bar and terrace. Plans were approved by the Department of Buildings four years ago.

Moinian told us in October, “We’ll be focusing on Sixth Avenue next year.” He explained that his company first needed to complete several other hotel projects, including the Hendricks on West 38th Street.

An outdoor shopping court at the site closed on Dec. 31. But no excavation has been done and the ground is bare behind a plywood fence.

Knakal echoed that Moinian simply had too many other projects on his plate right now to do another one.

But the sale offering comes as hotel room creation in the city has overwhelmed even an unprecedented boom in business and tourism travel. And this was before the coronavirus pandemic began to threaten the city’s travel and tourism industry.

The city’s on track to have 144,000 hotel rooms by the start of 2022, compared with 87,000 just 10 years ago. The growing volume has pushed down occupancy, room rates and RevPAR despite a boom in visitors from 48.8 million in 2010 to 70 million in 2019.

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