The new CitizenM Hotel at 218 West 50th Street is moving towards completion, and it looks like the large rooftop box evident in renderings is now being installed. The protrusion will serve as an enormous four-sided billboard, keeping with the character of Times Square, though 50th Street is several blocks north of the most prominent signage.
As zoning regulations force smaller hotels to proliferate through much of Midtown, this will likely become a more common occurrence, but examples like the CitizenMl are quite rare. Even CitizenM’s signage will be dwarfed by the future ‘Times Square Gateway Center‘ at 701 Seventh Avenue, which will have the largest LED screen in the world, rising over 100 feet and covering a total area of 240,000 square feet.
Perhaps expanding the zoning envelope in Times Square to match that of the Midtown East rezoning would be wise, given the extreme build-up in pressure on hotel rooms in New York, and their rapid expansion. Data from NYC & Company shows that the number of rooms in greater New York – the vast majority of which are in Manhattan – has expanded from 72,600 in 2006 to 98,000 this year, and is projected to reach 107,000 by 2016, which is an unprecedented amount of growth.
Unless immediate steps are taken to alleviate the surge in demand, the result will be more low-slung and architecturally offensive projects. Luckily the CitizenM is merely semi-unfortunate looking, as the black-brick cladding ensures the 22-story tower is boring enough to blend into the background of the neighborhood – though the brightly-lit box on top will be quite obvious at night.