Joie de Vivre set to debut in NYC’s Chinatown

NEW YORK—In a breakthrough for the brand, lifestyle-segment player Joie de Vivre Hotels (JdV) is slated to open its first property here this winter.

The 229-key Hotel 50 Bowery, developed at that address by the locally prominent Chu family, will be located in the city’s Chinatown district. It is owned by 50 Bowery Holdings, LLC. 

Standing in stark contrast to the surrounding low-rise landscape, the 21-story hotel with a rooftop bar offers panoramic views. The property will be operated and managed by Commune Hotels & Resorts.

Guestrooms feature original artwork, and blue-and-white chinaware colors enhance the bedroom wall.

According to Lauren Chu, whose family is considered one of Chinatown’s major landlords, the timing was right for their foray into hospitality. The leases were up, and my father Alexander Chu has always thought that location was appropriate for a hotel. We spoke to a few other brands, but we liked that 50 Bowery would be a unique proposition within the JdV collection,” she said, noting the venture is in alliance with an undisclosed business partner with “an international hospitality presence, but this will be the first for us.”

Open shop Flintrock Construction Services, LLC, served as general contractor. The hotel was designed by Peter Poon Architects, while Wimberly Interiors designed the interiors.

“The design of the hotel is reflective of its location in downtown Manhattan,” said Chu. “It is a curtain-wall glass facade, so the neighboring landmarked Citizens Savings Bank and the sculptural Confucius Plaza apartment complex across the street, and the triumphal arch and colonnade of the Manhattan Bridge Plaza, can all be seen in its reflection. The interiors are meant to be somewhat raw and industrial, with a lot of natural finishes, but you will also recognize that there is Chinese in its DNA.”

In addition, the hotel’s ties to the community will be showcased in The Gallery, a permanent exhibit from the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA). Resident curator, Herb Tam, works for the museum, of which Lauren Chu’s brother, Jonathan, is a trustee.

And while the new-construction hotel replaced an existing two-story commercial building, the site’s past also is figuring in the project and exhibit.

When Lauren Chu’s grandfather Joseph picked up the site some four decades ago, his ownership was the latest in a long line of interesting occupants in the area, dating back to when the Dutch and others set up New Amsterdam—today’s Manhattan—and began growing it northward.

As digging for the hotel began, the location turned up artifacts from several centuries back, drawing the interest of preservationists and archaeologists who were later able to collect, identify and preserve a wide range of items. Now, the exhibit will showcase many of the found items from the 1700s through the early 1900s, including those from a gambling den, taverns, vaudeville and motion-picture theaters, and the sprawling 1850s beer hall, the Atlantic Garden, for which the hotel’s 5,000-sq.-ft. outdoor space is named.

With such a backstory, Lauren Chu felt Joie de Vivre also would be able to incorporate it well into the brand story. “We liked JdV’s commitment to honoring the locality of each of their properties, and this site has a long and rich history of diverse people gathering to eat, drink and celebrate together—a tradition we intend to continue. It seemed like the right fit,” she said.

Rendering of Hotel 50 Bowery

Toward this, Hotel 50 Bowery will offer a trio of restaurant, bar and lounge concepts from celebrity chef Dale Talde, who has eateries in New York, New Jersey and Florida, and who recently published his first cookbook, Asian-American.

The F&B outlets will include an Asian restaurant, Rice & Gold, in the lobby; a cellar lounge, Goldie’s, that will feature dim-sum-style fare and live entertainment; and [email protected], a rooftop bar.

References to Chinese culture and the surrounding district will be found within the hotel. Industrial-style poured concrete and exposed brick will be the setting for Asian-influenced furniture in the lobby, while guestroom corridors will feature artwork from Beijing-based graffiti artist Dake Wong.

In guestrooms and suites, NYC-centric subway tiles will be a “sense-of-place” touchpoint, while traditional blue-and-white chinaware colors will infuse the hand-plastered headboard wall. Work by local artists Lowell Boyers, André Saraiva and Simone Shubuck, will be room highlights.

The hotel offers 1,900 sq. ft. of indoor function space, and includes The Gallery, boardroom and five suites for meetings and events.

“On the group/meeting front, we anticipate smaller programs looking for unique event space,” said Chu. “Imagine a reception in our on-site gallery curated by MOCA or a fashion show outside on our 5,000-sq.-ft. Atlantic Garden.” 

At more than 200 keys, Chu expects the hotel to cater to more of a psychographic than demographic market. “We imagine our guests to be somewhat adventurous and looking to delve a little deeper into visiting New York City. With our proximity to all of Lower Manhattan and also Brooklyn, there are a lot of landmarks and destinations that perhaps one wouldn’t find on a first trip to NYC, but would seek on subsequent visits for more authenticity and local flavors. We think foodies will love 50 Bowery,” she said.

“Establishing a presence in Manhattan is a seminal moment in the expansion of Joie de Vivre Hotels,” said Niki Leondakis, CEO of Commune Hotels & Resorts. “When deciding where we would plant our first flag, Chinatown was a natural fit—not just because it is a gateway to many Manhattan locations, but because of the neighborhood’s distinct spirit. Hotel 50 Bowery will be a vivid expression of this dynamic community and its rich history.”

The Lower East Side hotel apparently is the forerunner for the California-grown boutique brand’s expansion in New York City under Commune, who’s website indicates a Joie de Vivre Midtown is “coming soon.” HB

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