Jamestown Will Redevelop One Times Square To Match The Metaverse Version

Oh, how the roles are reversed.

After bringing One Times Square to the Metaverse, Jamestown brings the Metaverse to One Times Square.

The owner built the digital version of the tower last year – containing the iconic New Year’s ball – based on its real-life counterpart. But the property developer announced Friday it would use $500 million to redevelop the physical version of the 118-year-old building to bring it closer to its twin brother Decentraland.

The redevelopment will create a new six-storey observation deck and museum experience; 12 floors of digital, virtual and augmented reality installations; and a new subway entrance when the property reopens in summer 2024. to the owner. †

“It’s designed as a kind of physical coupling of a metaverse experience, which is the opposite of what humans have done,” Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, told Commercial Observer. “We have designed a metaverse and a virtual experience, which we are now going to integrate [the building]which I think is the really compelling piece of how physical real estate is coming 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 a sight to behold. Built in 1904 as the headquarters of The New York Timesthe building is known around the world for its bright neon signs that 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 to the 26-story building in December 2021 after hosting a virtual New Year’s Eve party in 2020 due to pandemic restrictions on in-person gatherings. The company partnered with Digital Currency Group to integrate One Times Square into the Decentraland metaverse, increasing its bullet drop engagement from 1 billion impressions in 2019 to about 2.4 billion impressions by 2022, the owner said. The online gathering featured immersive virtual games, rooftop VIP lounges and art galleries, while real-life COVID-19 cases increased and local festivities were canceled. At least in the metaverse, last December, One Times Square was the tallest building around.

The newly renovated One Times Square will be open to the public for the first time in recent history as “the 21st-century visitor center for New York City,” as Phillips put it. While the 21st floor is occupied by the team planning the New Year’s Eve reception, the building is largely vacant, said Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, which teams up with Jamestown each year for the New Year’s Eve festivities. The renovations would give the public a glimpse of the property, unseen and largely unoccupied since the 1990s.

One Times Square didn’t need tenants – the advertisers in the building are enough. When Lehman Brothers — the financial company that went bankrupt in the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008 — bought the building in 1995, it renovated the billboard facade and pinned sky-high profits to the tower that stood mostly empty. After $500 million in renovations, the property’s iconic exterior won’t be the only area adorned with sports ads — inside the building, visitors viewing the space through VR glasses will be able to see messages from various brands. There will also be a gaming component in the space, Phillips said.

“We have a design that starts in the public domain, and you could [virtual reality] for the exterior, with which the experiment will begin,” Phillips said. “Once you’re inside the building, there will be a series of sequential events related to the different historical and brand experiences as you travel through the building. It’s about taking technology and harnessing it in ways that are both external and internal. are for the physical space.

Jamestown is working with AECOM Tishman to design the project, and JPMorgan Chase will provide funding, though the owner declined to provide details. S9 Architecture will be the design architect for the team, SLCE Architects will be the executive architect, DeSimone Consulting Engineers will handle structural engineering and Tishman will also serve as construction manager, a Jamestown spokesperson said.

The redevelopment project took more than a year, Harris said. Early in the planning process, Jamestown solicited input from the Times Square Alliance, the non-profit organization dedicated to advancing local business and economic development in the square. The alliance even considered its own presence in the Metaverse, but ultimately decided it would focus on the physical Times Square instead, Harris said.

“I applaud Jamestown for this investment in Times Square, and it just shows the value people place on Times Square,” Harris told CO. “We will work closely with the contractors and with Jamestown to ensure that the [process] is seamless 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 isn’t the only way Jamestown is integrating its real operations into the virtual world. The company accepts rental 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 items like food and rent in bitcoin or ethereum,” BitPay CEO Stephen Pair said in a statement at the time. “Working with Jamestown will allow them to not only live off crypto, but also live and work in transformed spaces and hubs of innovation in major cities.”

These transformed spaces will soon include One Times Square, construction of which began 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 of that.

Celia Young can be reached at: cyung@commercialobserver.com

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