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Barry talks about his vision for 1

By September 30, 2007

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Last Tuesday I was invited to the launching of 1.

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It shouldn’t have come as a surprise but I was impressed that all the publicists knew who I was without me having to introduce myself. It also shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I’d be under dressed in jeans and an un-tucked shirt (I say that I don’t need a suit because I only go to one wedding a year but apparently a suit would come in handy for these condo parties.) What did come as a surprise was how this was a small and intimate gathering with seemingly half of the thirty people flying in from New York just for the event.

When I first arrived I wandered around for a bit and checked out the model for the city suite.

I was surprised the kitchen featured an electric cook top instead of gas. The fridge is built in and is Fischer Paykel, the microwave is Wolf, and there is a slide out dishwasher drawer. I found it strange that the cabinets didn’t have pulls; maybe I’m old fashioned that way.

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Sadly the bathroom was missing the cool tub. Apparently it was held up by customs.

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The highlight of the night was Barry Sternlicht of the Starwood Capital Group who spoke about their vision for 1. Of course I should have done my research and known that Starwood is the group behind the W Hotels of which I’m a fan but attending the event was rather spur of the moment.

You know I’m not much of a writer so here are the notes I could decipher:

  • The site is on ‘an important block’
  • Ecologically sensitive project
  • This will be the first luxury eco brand
  • Seattle is a eco city and made the most sense to launch this new brand
  • Likened it to Starbucks who is able to sell a product that is sold everywhere but at 3x the price
  • Donating 1% of profits
  • This project is going to be a “good way to live”
  • The project has “good DNA”
  • Starwood is going to be building LEED certified going forward
  • Trying not to talk about the systems in the building because it is the first building they are trying stuff at and don’t want their competition to find out about them
  • Reclaimed wood is from the bottom of lake Michigan
  • Glen did the interiors who also did the interiors for the W NYC
  • Steve Hanson is the restuarant exec. Owns 17 restaurants in NYC
  • They’re going to source local organic food
  • Can charger higher prices because its green
  • It will sell faster because its green
  • People will feel good
  • Green elements cost a lot
  • Free parking if you have a hybrid. Made a comment about being worried about pro formas if everyone has a hybrid (I love accounting jokes!)
  • These will be the best rooms in the city
  • It will be a top ranked hotel in a few years but that will be hard since there are so few rooms
  • Other cities that will be getting 1s: Denver, Atlanta, LA, SF and some resort towns
  • Marketing will be local
  • Financing for the project requires pre-sales
  • Interest is higher than they thought
  • Early adopters have been blown away
  • 10 press interviews a week are turned down by Barry’s team
  • Trying to get a head start on the green trend
  • Owners should expect to save 10-15% on operating costs since the project is green
  • 115 or 176 city suites have been reserved
  • 20 of 44 condos have been reserved

After the talk I got a chance to chat with the developer, restaurateur, architect and other members of the team. I also had a quick conversation with Barry about why they named it 1. Apparently he is a U2 fan. Some other notes I gathered from these talks:

  • There will be a 5000 square foot grocery store on the main floor. Think Dean and Deluca. It will share the same kitchen as the restaurant so the butcher you talk to about your meat will be the same butcher working the restaurant.
  • The project has been in the works for over 9 years
  • The project struggled with the monorail team and the easements that were required.
  • The units will have the option for an impressive A/V control system. You can even integrate it with Kaleidescape (though the UX was disappointing compared to Media Center)
  • Condos will be 1400-6000 square feet and cost ~$1400/sf

I left the event excited; a luxury green brand is a good idea and Barry is clearly extremely passionate about this concept and if he executes as well on this as he did on W it will be the beginning of a major trend in the hotel industry.

But maybe I left excited because I was also well fed and drunk.

I have a press kit with lots of info so if you have questions the answer might be here somewhere.

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