By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — One of the last undeveloped stretches of Times Square is about to be transformed by two new hotels and a 50,000 square-foot retail complex.
Today, the south side of West 42nd Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway stands mostly vacant, despite being sandwiched between the bustle of Times Square and the draw of Bryant Park's greenery. The storefronts once occupied by Pop-Tarts World and Charmin Restrooms now stand empty, while a vacant lot is boarded off by yellow gates next door.
But that's all about to change.
The heart of the transformation will be a new 250 to 300-room hotel set to open in 2013 in the now-vacant lot at 136 W. 42nd St. DiamondRock Hospitality Company announced the deal, worth from $112.5 to $135 million, in a statement Tuesday.
Lynne Messina, in-house counsel for Highgate Holdings, which is expected to operate the hotel, declined to comment on plans for the property or which hotel brand was slated for the space.
But C. Bradley Mendelson, executive vice president at Cushman & Wakefield, which has been in negotiations over retail space on three of the new hotel's floors, said the property will likely rise 30 stories and could become a Hilton hotel.
Meanwhile, right next door, the former Knickerbocker Hotel at 1466 Broadway, also owned by Highgate, is set to be converted from office space back into an upscale, boutique hotel.
As part of the renovation, the hotel's main entrance will be moved to West 42nd Street, with new retail space set to open on the ground floor when the lobby is moved, Alan Schmerzler, a senior director at Cushman said.
Between the Knickerbocker and new development, the stretch is expected to house 750 new hotel rooms, he said.
Schmerzler said the new developments are nothing short of "800 feet of urban redevelopment."
"It is a tremendous transformation of the block," he said. "It will be a very beneficial update to what is currently the last un-revitalized portion of Times Square."
In addition to the hotels, a new retail complex is also coming to the stretch at 120-126 W. 42nd St., Schmerzler said. The space is set to be reconfigured into a new, three-story glass and steel building with 22,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and about 50,000 square feet of retail space on concourse levels, he said.
Capping off the projects is a new public plaza that recently opened just east of the soon-to-be-built retail development, said Shapher Williams, who works at Equity Office, which owns the space.
Last year, the block celebrated the opening of the 55-story One Bryant Park tower, Bank of America's new New York City headquarters. The 48-story Condé Nast building on Broadway between West 42nd and West 43rd streets opened its doors in 2000.