NEW YORK The collapse of the World Trade Center towers in 2001 had a profound impact on downtown Manhattan, disrupting the public transportation system, closing offices, restaurants, and shops, and displacing thousands of residents. Now, nearly 10 years and billions in investment funding later, Lower Manhattan is booming and the changing landscape is ripe with sites for corporate functions, nonprofit galas, and business entertaining. Here's a look at recently opened venues and some important projects in the pipeline.
1. Conrad New York
One of the biggest properties scheduled to open this year is Hilton Worldwide's first Conrad in New York. The luxury hotel, which sits around the corner from the new Goldman Sachs headquarters, west of the World Trade Center site and north of the World Financial Center, will cater to business travelers and tourists alike, offering 463 guest rooms and more than 17,000 square feet of meeting space. For events, there will be a grand ballroom with the capacity for more than 600 guests.
2. North End Grill
Accompanying the debut of the Conrad New York will be a fine dining restaurant from well-regarded restaurateur Danny Meyer. The New American eatery, dubbed North End Grill for its physical address and cuisine focus, is being designed by architecture firm Bentel & Bentel and will a seafood-centric menu from executive chef and partner Floyd Cardoz. Nearby, Meyer also plans to open a second outpost of his popular barbecue joint Blue Smoke.
3. W New York—Downtown
According to statistics gathered by the Alliance for Downtown New York, the number of hotels south of Chambers Street has more than tripled in the past decade and now totals 18, with 4,092 rooms cumulatively. Contributing to this boost was the opening of the stylish W Downtown, the 58-story hotel-condo hybrid with 217 rooms, the bilevel BLT Bar & Grill, and a bar and terrace for cocktails. There's also 2,000 square feet of dedicated meeting and event space.
4. Andaz Wall Street
Just as design-minded is the first New York outpost of the Hyatt Hotels group's boutique brand Andaz, which sports a contemporary aesthetic, exemplified by a sculptural steel and stone staircase in the lobby. In addition to a group-friendly restaurant known as Wall & Water, the Andaz Wall Street has an entire floor of dedicated meeting space. Called the Andaz Studio, the 5,920-square-foot area is broken into five flexible rooms centered around a communal kitchen and lounge.
5. World Center Hotel
Overlooking what will be the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the 169-room World Center Hotel is designed with views in mind. In addition to offering rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, the property also has a restaurant perched on the 20th floor that offers year-round indoor and outdoor dining. In terms of meeting space, there's two rooms, which each come equipped with high-speed wireless Internet and audiovisual capabilities.
6. South Street Seaport Museum
A fixture on the eastern end of Fulton Street since 1967, the South Street Seaport Museum revived a series of interconnected rooms on its fifth floor and made the space available for events in 2010. Like the rest of the historical institution, the section known as the Schermerhorn Galleries is housed in a row of 19th-century brick buildings and retains original details such as hardwood floors, exposed brick walls, ceiling beams, and even graffiti.
7. New York Stock Exchange
Previously only available to companies listed on the exchange, the landmark building that houses the New York Stock Exchange opened to outside parties for event rentals in 2010. The landmark on Wall Street, which was built in 1903, offers several areas for events, including the famed trading floor, a dining room on the seventh floor that was once the members-only Stock Exchange Luncheon Club, and a lounge. Security is still tight, but an in-house catering team and technicians are available, and events renting the facility may also hang banners or flags from the building's facade.
8. World Trade Center Performing Arts Center
The redevelopment of the World Trade Center site also includes the addition of a performing arts center, which will be the permanent home of the Joyce Theater. Working on the project are renowned architect Frank Gehry, HOK Architects, and Faithful & Gould, and plans include a 1,000-seat theater, a secondary theater, a café, and plazas. Estimates put the completion date in 2014.
9. Four Points by Sheraton Financial District
W hotels aren't the only brand in the Starwood portfolio seeing a rapid expansion. The hotel company announced that it will open a Four Points by Sheraton location in the financial district in summer 2013. The 264-room property, to be at 6 Platt Street, is being designed by architect Glen Coben and will pay homage to its neighborhood with design elements like a lobby wall made from recycled safety deposit boxes. The hotel will also have 2,000 square feet of conference space and a rooftop lounge.
10. Pier A Complex
The proposal from Harry and Peter Poulakakos, the father-son restaurateur team that also operates Harry's Café in Hanover Square, to turn Pier A in Battery Park into a 40,000-square-foot restaurant complex, was approved in March this year. The plan includes an oyster bar and beer garden, an upscale restaurant, and a private event space. The as-yet-unnamed complex is expected to open in 2013.