Entering the hive of activity that is Ian Schrager’s West Village offices is exhilarating. The energy exuded by the fourtysome employees is catching, even as the office is in the midst of a complete redesign and the offices are filled with crates and boxes.
At the center of it is nightlife revolutionary, game-changing hotelier and visionary developer, Ian Schrager. Although many have tried to follow in his footsteps, none have truly succeeded to bring about paradigm shifts quite like Schrager. There has never been another club as great as Schrager’s Studio 54. Everyone has tried to recreate the magic of the Delano and failed. Now he’s blazing a new trail in the luxury development game that few will be able to follow.
Indeed, when Schrager first graced Haute Living’s cover eight years ago, he had just completed his first residential real estate project, Gramercy Park Towers with Aby Rosen and famed artist Julian Schnabel. He was planning 40 Bond Street, a small project that would go on to make big waves by offering comparatively large spaces for New York, and bringing the outside in with private gardens and asking record-breaking prices not seen in the area.
40 Bond Street also introduced architects Herzog & de Meuron who were relatively unknown in the states at the time. The exterior design was aggressive in its modernity, with a green glass façade that has been said to “sparkle at noon and glow at dusk.” The most exciting thing about the project to buyers, however, was the space. The condominiums felt more like homes, with many boasting balconies and even little grass back yards.
Now, Herzog & de Meuron have gone on to become darlings of the architecture world conceptualizing the iconic 1111 Lincoln Building in Miami Beach as well as the recently completed Peréz Art Museum Miami, but at that time they were an exotic name to most.
So while some people were skeptical that Schrager may have overstepped the bounds of the market, people bought and happily paid handsomely. The project’s success turned Bond Street into some of the most valuable real estate in the city.
So how does he do it? Schrager explains, “It’s never been about the money, it’s about building the right product for the right clientele.” It’s also about art and beauty. From the beginning days of Studio 54, when Schrager and late partner Steve Rubell used sets to transform the club, and installations at Palladium by cutting edge artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Francesco Clemente to make it cool, different and beautiful. As he went into the hotel business Schrager then tapped French designer Philippe Stark to give hotels The Royalton, Delano and Mondrian, a look and feel never before seen in the states.
While its been conjectured that his success as a hotelier would not have happened without the designer, its obvious that not all Stark projects have the same je ne sais quoi as those he did with Schrager.
“I’m excited to be doing a project in Miami again,” says Schrager, whose pivotal Delano hotel, not only dictated the look and feel of Miami hotels for the next two decades, but was also considered risky because of its location on 17th Street, then considered no man’s land.
Now, as Schrager appears on Haute Living’s cover eight years later, he is covering new ground again with another new name and a game-changing project called EDITION, a condo-hotel project. Although it’s not the only one in the area this time, it still takes vision to imagine what the beachfront block of Collins Avenue that, for now, is still lined with liquor stores, and inexpensive bars and diners, will become.
“It’s my favorite area,” says Schrager of the neighborhood which has close proximity to the Fontainebleau, Soho Beach House, and the Faena development, which will have a theater. EDITION will have plenty of its own amenities too, including a bowling alley, nightclub, ice skating rink, 2 pools, multiple bars, spa, gym and restaurant by James Beard winner Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Half of the project involved a gutting and overhaul of a 1950s landmark, which has not been occupied since an attempt by Ritz Carlton to do something with the space that went the way of the recession, the other half is brand new construction.
Schrager says, “This one picks up where the Delano left off. It is truly an urban resort, offering multiple outlets for relaxing, entertainment, escaping, working, socializing and having fun. It’s the next generation of a resort that is truly an alternative to everything else available. If it weren’t all [these things], I wouldn’t even bother doing it.”
It’s definitely been worth his while as Schrager has already sold the penthouse for a whopping $34 million. “I remember when Jorge Perez said ‘If anyone can get $3,000 a square foot, Ian can,’” he says with satisfaction. “That number was unheard of in Miami, but, personally, I feel certain that if you build a quality project, the buyer is there.” And he doesn’t mean far away either. “Believe it or not, people think it would be a billionaire from Russia, Latin America or the Middle East, but it was a client from the Northeast.” Proving that even Americans are ready to put down big money for quality.
Quality and location aren’t the only thing that makes EDITION unique. This time the defining factor is the architecture, for which he has brought in British architect John Pawson. Pawson, who is known abroad for his modern aesthetic, has been given the challenging task of making each and every residence in the building different from each other. In this way, every unit is a one-of-a-kind edition, hence the name, EDITION. Buyers will also have the chance to purchase their abode with furniture packages by ISC Design Team or architect John Pawson with everything selected right down the luxury linens and dishes if they so choose.
In true Schrager style, the EDITION will be bringing the outside in – and the inside out with cushy couches on spacious balconies urging residents to profit from Miami’s beautiful weather. “There will be outdoor kitchens, lap pools, pergolas and fireplaces,” he says of the outdoor space. The hotel space, which will occupy the lower floors of the building, will be designed by Yabu Pushelberg.
The EDITION project reflects what Schrager feels is a new Miami Beach. “You look around, and you see very sophisticated people walking around. This is not a market for winter travelers anymore. When I first built Delano,” says Schrager. “We had a lot of people that were coming from middle America. Now, we have the most elite customers worldwide. I am not sure if it is the effect Art Basel has had, but to me, Miami Beach is one of the most special markets in the world. You can just see it on the street, people walking around, etc. That is why I built the EDITION in Miami Beach. I wanted to give these customers an opportunity to have the best in everything.”
While each unit may be unique, Miami Beach isn’t the only EDITION. There are already EDITION hotels in London and Istanbul, with plans for more in the Metropolitan Life Tower, multiple cities in China, Abu Dhabi, Bangkok, and more. “They are great at what they do,” he says of the partnership. “They built amazing luxury brands, with The Ritz-Carlton, and I am excited for EDITION to offer another great luxury experience.”
Another hotel Ian Schrager Company is also working on is called PUBLIC, which has already opened a location in Chicago. PUBLIC aims to present a new category of hotel that is both sophisticated with great service, while offering a tremendous value.
Service is key at PUBLIC, but only those that matter. Schrager has sought to eliminate superfluous services like turndown service, which modern consumers don’t really care about. “PUBLIC Chicago launched with great success,” he says. And why wouldn’t it be? It has a chic, neutral color palette, affordable prices and their own Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant.
Schrager success is a testament to his vision, which is a highly rare mix of enterprise and creativity that very, very rarely comes along. Parallels between the way Schrager has revolutionized his industries and the way Steve Jobs revolutionized tech are hard to ignore. Even Schrager recognizes that his brand compares to Apple, noting that the two had a similar philosophies.
Like many creative people, Schrager draws inspiration from his everyday surroundings. “I get all my inspiration from the street. It’s a question of connecting the dots, of seeing things other people don’t see,” he says matter-of-factly. There’s a little bit of danger involved in projects [like these], and a balancing act between art and commerce. When in the midst of that danger you pull it off is when an alchemy happens and you create magic.” We are very much looking forward to the alchemist’s return to Miami Beach.