Demolition is pending for a four-story tenement at 306 West 40th Street, where Checkmate Capital and Imperium Financial Group are proposing a high-rise hotel for a property that includes an adjacent lot at 308 West 40th Street. The September 2015 construction permit called for a 21-story, 60-room hotel, but a redesign revealed at the site earlier this year shows a 35-story structure. Permit approval delays likely stem from this recent change. ADB Associates is the architect of record.
The tenement is among the block’s few remaining buildings that date to the start of the 20th century. In the late 1920s, commercial high-rises replaced swaths of multi-story tenements and low-rise commercial buildings across much of the Garment District.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal, built in 1950 and primarily serving commuters from rapidly growing New Jersey suburbs, replaced a full city block between West 40th and West 41st streets and Eighth and Ninth avenues. Extensions and ramps built in 1963 and 1979 connected directly to the Lincoln Tunnel, built several blocks northwest in three phases in 1937, 1945, and 1957.
The world’s largest bus terminal adversely affected its immediate surroundings, which already struggled with declining industry and rising crime rates. Its featureless, block-long wall faces south toward West 40th Street, where its massive steel truss cantilevers over the sidewalk and dominates the streetscape.
The distressed block saw a renaissance at the start of the millennium, when the city’s tourism industry began its rapid rise. High-density zoning, proximity to Times Square, and adjacency to the bus terminal and Penn Station encouraged developers to erect a series of hotels on the block to the south of the terminal, bound by West 39th and West 30th streets and Eighth and Ninth avenues. The 10 high-rise hotels built since 2004 created the city’s densest hospitality district. The 42-story, 287-room facility under construction next door at 310 West 40th Street will become one of the city’s tallest hotels once it is completed.
The on-site rendering at 306 West 40th Street shows that the proposed tower follows an existing template, where a low-rise base maintains the street wall and the height and setback of the tower matches its counterparts up the block. The sprawling bus terminal ensures sweeping skyline panoramas from most street-facing rooms. Given the resurgent popularity of rooftop venues at hotels, developers may opt to open a restaurant or lounge space at the top floor, similar to adjacent venues such as the Sky Room at 330 West 40th Street, Lovage NYC at 350 West 40th Street, and the one proposed at 310 West 40th Street.
Commercial low-rises to the east, anchored with ground level retail, create a pedestrian-scaled streetscape. Unfortunately, years of neglect and alterations have devalued the pre-war buildings. An adult video store, which previously occupied the ground floor at 306 West 40th Street, vacated the premises several years ago. The unused building blights the street with its rolled-up gate and broken windows.
Contributions to the Hudson Yards District Improvement Fund allowed several hotels on the block to be built to their present size. The current pace of neighborhood growth, coupled with massive development in progress at Hudson Yards to the west, suggests that adjacent sites will likely face redevelopment in the near future, as well. The block’s next major upgrade would arrive when the bus terminal is either rebuilt is relocated, once officials determine a plan for the aging facility.