Jamestown will rebuild One Times Square to match the Metaverse version

Oh, where the table turns.

After bringing One Times Square to Metaverse, Jamestown will bring Metaverse to One Times Square.

The owner built the digital version of the tower – which houses the iconic New Year’s ball drop – based on its real counterpart last year. But the property developer announced Friday that it would spend $ 500 million to remodel the physical version of the 118-year-old building to make it closer to its twin Decentraland.

The redevelopment will create a new six-story observation deck and museum experience; 12 floors with digital, virtual and augmented reality installations; and a new subway entrance when the property reopens in the summer of 2024. But don’t worry: the tower’s north-facing LED panels will continue to illuminate light-like daytime commercials in Times Square throughout the 27-month construction process, according to the owner. .

“It’s designed as a kind of physical pairing of a metavers experience, which is the opposite of what people have done,” Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, told the Commercial Observer. “We have designed a metaverse and a virtual experience, which we will now integrate [the building]which I think is the really compelling part of how physical real estate comes to life with the technology now available in the digital world.

At the intersection of 42nd Street, Seventh Avenue and Broadway, the physical One Times Square is already something to see. Built in 1904 as the headquarters for New York TimesThe building is known worldwide for its bright neon signs, which can fetch between $ 75,000 and millions of dollars depending on how long the campaign lasts, according to a Jamestown representative.

Jamestown “built” the metaverse counterpart of the 26-story building in December 2021 after hosting a virtual New Year’s Eve in 2020 due to pandemic restrictions on personal gatherings. The company partnered with the Digital Currency Group to integrate One Times Square into the Decentraland meta-verse, increasing engagement in the ball drop from 1 billion views in 2019 to approximately 2.4 billion views in 2022, according to the owner. The online collection featured immersive virtual games, rooftop VIP lounges and art galleries as the real-world COVID-19 event rose and local festivities were canceled. At least in the meta-verse, One Times Square was the tallest building in the area last December.

The newly renovated One Times Square will, for the first time in recent history, be open to the public as “the 21st Century Visitor Center for New York City,” as Phillips put it. While the 21st floor has been occupied by the team planning to throw New Year’s ball, the building is largely empty, said Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, which works with Jamestown each year for New Year’s Eve. The renovations would give the public an insight into the property, unseen and mostly uninhabited since the 1990s.

One Times Square did not need tenants – the advertisers in the building are enough. When Lehman Brothers – the financial firm that went bankrupt in the 2008 subprime loan crisis – bought the building in 1995, it renovated the facade with billboards, and hung soaring profits on the tower largely vacant. After $ 500 million in renovations, the property’s iconic exterior will not be its only part adorned with sports commercials – inside the building, visitors who see the space through VR glasses will be able to see messages from various brands. There will also be a game component in the room, Phillips said.

“We have a design that starts in the public domain and you can use yours [virtual reality] for the exterior, which will start the experiment, ”said Phillips. “Once in the building, there will be a series of sequenced events related to the various historical and fire experiences as you travel through the building. It is about taking the technology and utilizing it in ways that are both external and internal to the physical space.

Jamestown is collaborating with AECOM Tishman to design the project, and JPMorgan Chase will provide funding, although the owner declined to provide details. S9 Architecture is the design architect for the team, SLCE Architects is the executive architect, DeSimone Consulting Engineers will handle construction engineering, and Tishman will also act as construction manager, according to a Jamestown spokesman.

The remodeling project took more than a year underway, Harris said. Early in its planning process, Jamestown sought input from the Times Square Alliance, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting local business and economic development on the site. The alliance even considered its own presence in Metaverse, but ultimately decided it would focus on physical Times Square instead, Harris said.

“I applaud Jamestown for this investment in Times Square, and it just shows the value people attach to Times Square,” Harris told CO. “We will work closely with the contractors and with Jamestown to ensure that [process] is hassle-free with minimal impact on the neighborhood. … We are very excited about this level of investment and this creative vision for Times Square and for New York.

Redevelopment is not the only way Jamestown integrates its real-world activities into the virtual world. The company will accept lease payments in the form of cryptocurrency through a partnership with blockchain payment processor BitPay, Jamestown announced on April 27.

“Customers want to pay for everyday things like food and rent in bitcoin or ethereum,” BitPay CEO Stephen Pair said in a statement at the time. “Working with Jamestown not only allows them to live on crypto, but also to live and work in transformed spaces and innovation centers in big cities.”

These transformed spaces will soon include One Times Square, which began construction in April. While other real estate companies have been reluctant to engage in cryptocurrency trading for cash or build real estate in the metaverse due to the speculative nature of the value of such properties, Jamestown has moved forward in the virtual world. Now he puts his money where his mouth is – and $ 500 million on top.

Celia Young can be contacted at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.

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