Native New Yorker and Haute 100 New York member Tommy Hilfiger recently sold his famous apparel company to Phillips-Van Heusen for a reported $3 billion and immediately got an itch to splurge. The iconic designer and founder of the Tommy Hilfiger Group, best known for his preppy panache, has signed a contract to purchase the Metropolitan Life clock tower for $170 million.
According to an informed source on the deal, Hilfiger plans to transform the landmark edifice into what else…a hotel—maybe a red, white, and blue Pleasantville of sorts, where guests might feel instantly prepified and compelled to shop and change into wardrobe from the possible apparel store downstairs, or share in a friendly game of rugby in the lobby, bath in teak tubs and dry off in eponymous towels, slip into blue Hilfiger robes with matching terrycloth slippers bearing embroidered novelty anchors, slumber in beds sheets made of American cotton spun from Mr. Hilfiger’s own yield, wake up and pop their polo collars at the new day…Just a thought.
According to The New York Times, Mr. Hilfiger had been “scouring the city for a suitable building for almost a year.” He had even considered purchasing the former Times building on West 43rd Street before settling his sights on the clock tower.
The MetLife tower overlooks Madison Square Park, at Madison Avenue and East 24th Street and was built with St. Mark’s Campanile in Venice as its muse, boasting 50 stories and crowned by a gilt cupola.
“It’s certainly a landmark in a neighborhood that’s become more hotel-friendly in recent years,” John Fox, a hotel industry specialist at PKF Consulting, said. “On the other hand, I’m not sure what a Hilfiger brand hotel is. I assume it’s something with a preppy look to the design.”
Although Africa Israel Investments, an international holding and investments group, did not disclose the buyer in securities documents filed Thursday in Israel, the deal was announced on The Wall Street Journal’s website. However, as in any real estate deal, until the ink is dry the deal is still in the sky. Africa Israel had at one point intended to turn the building into condos, claimed the Journal.
Mr. Hilfiger will not stand alone in the realm of designer-turned-hotelier. Giorgio Armani realized his hospitality endeavors with a chain of luxury hotels, including the Armani Hotel Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.