Hotelier Jason Pomeranc has been eagerly looking forward to opening his posh new lodge, the 143-room Thompson Lower East Side at 190 Allen Street. “I think it’s going to be a moment in time that will be remembered as kind of when the Lower East Side came of age,” said Mr. Pomeranc, 37, co-owner of Thompson Hotels. “I mean, it’s been a process, with gentrification and change and growth over the last several years. Usually, that process culminates with a luxury project—like what I believe the Thompson Lower East Side will be—where it integrates the vibe and the flow of the neighborhood but introduces a new audience as well.
“I view a project as successful, like when we opened 60 Thompson, when it inherently became identified with the neighborhood. It became synonymous with Soho. I hope that the Thompson Lower East Side will do the same.”
It’s a coming-of-age moment that has, for months now, seemed rather elusive.
Originally scheduled to open in “spring 2008”—a rather vague date that still appears on the company’s Web site—the modernist, 22-story, Ed Rawlings-designed building, now three years in the making, has repeatedly missed its anticipated launch date, a dubious track record chronicled ad nauseam on the Internet.
Pressed in May about an expected June 2 opening, management instead announced that the hotel was still several weeks away but would begin taking online reservations starting July 15.
Prospective guests who did book a room for that night ultimately had to find other accommodations. Ditto for July 22.
Finally, on July 29, the long-awaited lodge unlocked its doors and began issuing keycards to guests—albeit only on a limited basis.
“It’ll be three floors this week, another several floors next week,” Mr. Pomeranc said on opening day, “and then before Labor Day, we should have all the rooms online.”
The rest of the towering hotel, including a third-floor swimming pool emblazoned with a Gerard Malanga photomural of the late artist Andy Warhol, as well as a new second-floor restaurant from star Toronto chef Susur Lee, won’t be open until Oct. 15.
“There are always unforeseen circumstances that cause delays in scheduling,” Mr. Pomeranc explained, “but I think that, basically, it’s been a smooth process.”
Smoother than some of his previous projects, perhaps.
“Twenty-seven months and counting” is how the industry gossip site HotelChatter summed up its extensive “delay-watching” of Mr. Pomeranc’s uptown hotel Six Columbus last July, after initial opening dates of “fall 2005” and “summer 2006” passed without the project even nearing completion: “Here at HotelChatter we have tracked many hotel openings, both new constructions and renovations, and this little renovation of the West Park Hotel is by far the longest hotel ‘opening’ we have ever tracked.”
The term “Six Columbus” even earned its own entry in the online Urban Dictionary, defined as “to be infinitely delayed, move incredibly slowly, or be forever shelved.”
The hotel finally opened its doors last October.
Mr. Pomeranc has endured a lot of flak over his apparent penchant for procrastination, which has reached the point now that even industry watchers are growing tired of the running joke.
“If he wasn’t so rich and successful and surrounded by celebrities and beautiful women all the time, the joke might actually be funny,” quipped Joey Arak, senior editor of the neighborhoods blog Curbed.
OF COURSE, Mr. Pomeranc’s hotels certainly aren’t the only ones to fall behind schedule.
The forthcoming 21-story Cooper Square Hotel, located just a few blocks away on the Bowery, is still shrouded in plywood and scaffolding, despite its prior April 2008 opening goal. The project has been mired in, among other things, community opposition to its sprawling food and beverage program and internal feuding among its developers, Gregory Peck and Matthew Moss.
Govind Armstrong, the Los Angeles-based chef behind the Cooper Square’s planned restaurant, Table 8, seemed as unsure as anyone about a possible opening date when asked about the hotel’s progress during a culinary showcase in Sagaponack this past weekend. “Four months,” he predicted.
The new Chelsea in Atlantic City celebrated its grand opening earlier this month, but much of that hotel, too, remains a work in progress. At press time, developer Curtis Bashaw was hustling to obtain the proper permits in order to unveil his hugely hyped fifth-floor amenities, including a Stephen Starr restaurant and nightspots designed by Beatrice Inn impresarios Paul Sevigny and Matt Abramcyk, in time for a long-scheduled press event this coming weekend. The Chelsea’s sprawling ground-floor spa, meanwhile, won’t be finished until November.
André Balazs, developer of the highly anticipated 344-room Standard NYC, has perhaps demonstrated the keenest foresight of them all by adopting the ultra-vague timeline “Coming Soonish.”
Hotels are simply “very, very complicated projects,” said Mr. Pomeranc. “There’s nothing uniform about them, and they evolve as they go on—that’s just the nature of the business. You try to do your best to give yourself a cushion to make those changes, but they take on their own lives, especially in New York City.
“It’s really more important for us to design and create an impressive product, and one that we are going to be proud of and lasts a very long time, than it is to rush things and have something be extraordinarily commercial and uninteresting.”
Somewhat self-mockingly, Mr. Pomeranc himself pointed out a few other recent Thompson Hotels projects that didn’t exactly stick to their original timelines.
“For instance, our project in Beverly Hills, we’re so happy with the end result—that one was delayed a bit, too,” he said. “And Gild Hall is open now,” he added, referring to the company’s newly renovated hotel on Gold Street. “That was pretty close to being on schedule—shockingly.”
Not that it really matters, he said: “The funny thing about that nitpicking—it’s just irrelevant. I mean, consider any creative field, whether it be a restaurant, an artist, a sculptor, a photographer—if you need a second day on your shoot, or you need a week, it’s going to take as long as it’s going to take within reasonable bounds, and you’re going to try to do the best that you can to make it work efficiently and make it work creatively at the same time. You balance those two things out, and until someone has tried to do it, they don’t understand what the process is.
“I sort of take it as a compliment,” Mr. Pomeranc said of the bloggers’ constant tardiness jokes. “The text, when they’re talking about the actual hotels, a lot of it is very flattering and complimentary. I would hope that they’re singling me out because they think that myself and Thompson as a whole are really making an effort to be pioneers in the industry.”