Real Estate Investors Take One Times Square to the Metaverse for New Year’s Eve Bash

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Real estate investors are leaving no stone — real or virtual — unturned as ​​Digital Currency Group (DCG) and Jamestown announced plans on Wednesday to recreate One Times Square in the virtual world of Decentraland for the New Year’s Eve ball drop, recently downsized by the city due to the spread of the omicron variant.

DCG, an investor in the blockchain and digital assets and one of the largest owners of virtual real estate, known as LAND, said this marks the first high-rise to be recreated in the Decentraland, the decentralized metaverse platform where transactions are made with the local currency, MANA.

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Michael Phillips, president of Jamestown, believes the firm’s foray into the metaverse was more about providing more people around the world with an immersive experience they may not have access to otherwise. But it’s also a statement about their future investment strategy.

“The future of real estate is the thoughtful integration of the virtual and physical worlds, optimized for user experience,” Phillips said. “Recreating One Times Square in the Decentraland metaverse is part of a larger digital asset strategy to evolve and enhance our physical real estate for web 3.0 and open new pathways for our assets to exist in multiple metaverses in the future.”

So create your avatar and join in the party that will have entertainment acts, virtual rooftop VIP lounges, CryptoArt galleries, and immersive games. Even a livestream of the actual proceedings at One Times Square will be offered on New Year’s Eve. Festivities begin at 11 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

And the decision to give people an immersive virtual experience may just be what many people need as COVID-19 has killed the plans of many to ring in the new year.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Dec. 23 that celebrations in Times Square would be reduced in density for social distancing purposes while attendees would be required to wear masks, provide proof of vaccination and show identification. De Blasio made the decision in step with Mayor-elect Eric Adams and health officials as the rate of positive COVID cases keeps surging, with the state seeing an infection rate of 19.33 percent as of Tuesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul said.

The virtual One Times Square is currently the tallest building in Decentraland and the event was organized by metaverse development firms GrowYourBase and MetaVenture Studios.The total area that the celebrations will take place in spans 170 LAND parcels and includes five buildings.

Virtual real estate has been experiencing a boom in transactions in recent months with the four leading virtual worlds seeing more than $100 million in sales during one week in November. Decentraland also notched its largest ever single LAND deal last month for a whopping $2.5 million, The New York Times reported.

“The metaverse is quickly evolving to bring together the most interesting and alluring parts of our favorite physical places around the world,” Simon Koster, DCG’s head of real estate, said in a statement. “This event highlights how virtual events can cohesively integrate with real ones in an effort to bring once-in-a-lifetime experiences to so many that would have never been able to participate otherwise.”

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.