Tommy Hilfiger Buys New York's MetLife Clock Tower To Turn into Luxury Hotel

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Clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger is hoping the young, affluent crowd that dig his preppy style will flock to his new luxury hotel now in the works in New York.

Hilfiger and a business partner have just inked a $170 million deal to buy the landmark Metropolitan Life clock tower office building that overlooks Madison Square Park.

The 700-foot building was built in 1909 and remained the tallest building in the world until the Woolworth building beat it out in 1913.

Interestingly, he wasn't the only fashion designer with ties to the property. The former owners, Africa Israel, had plans of turning the famous clock tower building into 100 luxury apartments with interiors designed by Versace.

"There are natural affinities between lifestyle hotels and fashion brands," Bjorn Hanson, dean of New York University's Preston Rober Tisch Center for Hospitality, tells the Wall Street Journal.

People familiar with the matter tell the paper that Hilfiger has been looking to launch a hotel for some time. Hilfiger and company put in a bid of $110 million for eight floors at the former New York Times building on West 43rd Street earlier this year, but later pulled out. The designer also looked at the Hotel Chelsea last year, but didn't put up a formal bid. (Famed hotelier Andre Balasz was also reportedly looking into the Hotel Chelsea earlier this year, the New York Post reported at the time.)

Hilfiger, who sold his clothing brand a little over a year ago to Phillips-Van Heusen for $3 billion and remains the principal designer, may take the lead of the building's former owners and turn a portion of the floor plan into luxury condos.

His former company is not involved in the hotel project.

What will a hotel interior designed by Hilfiger look like? Only time will tell. "I'm not sure what a Hilfiger brand hotel is. I assume it's something with a preppy look to the design," John Fox, a hotel industry specialist at PKF consulting, tells the New York Times.

Regardless of the final product, Hilfiger won't be the only designer involved in the hospitality world. The likes of Armani, Missoni and Versace are already in the business; Diane von Furstenberg has also gotten in on the action designing rooms for Claridge's in London.


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