11 East 31st Street has sat vacant for several years, after the Simon Development Group (SDG) originally purchased the lots in the 2000s. The project was put on hold for several years, but construction is finally slated to begin in 2013.
The empty lot is the future home of a 33-story hotel, which will have 260 rooms. The specific name of the hotel is still undisclosed, although SDG has brought in Thompson Hotels as a partner on the project.
Few renderings of the project have been released, but the one from SDG’s website shows a plain glass box. The building becomes recessed from the street after the first floor, which is the only major problem with the design.
The street-wall, or the massing of buildings along the sidewalk, is one of the defining characteristics of New York City. Urban canyons are what New York has come to be known by, and removing buildings from the immediate sidewalk after only a few floors serves to undercut this effect.
Besides that issue, it’s just another new hotel–thankfully nowhere near as bad as the work of Kaufman or Poon, but it still has significant room for improvement.