Madison Avenue’s Roger Hotel Is Reborn as Hotel AKA NoMad

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Some investors seized the opportunity that pandemic lockdowns provided and bought shuttered hotels in Manhattan. Those bets are starting to pay off.

AKA Hotels and Electra America Hospitality Group picked up the leasehold on The Roger, a hotel near Madison Square Park, for $19 million in June of 2021, when New York City’s hospitality market was still struggling. Now, two years later, the pair are finally wrapping construction on the new AKA Hotel NoMad at 131 Madison Avenue, between East 30th and East 31st streets.

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Designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni, the AKA has 180 newly renovated rooms, 11 terraces and a fourth-floor club that includes a gym, an outdoor dining area and an outdoor movie theater. The revamped, double-height lobby has a $1.5 million curved bronze staircase and a wine bar, as well as an upper mezzanine floor where guests can eat breakfast.

The Madison Avenue Baptist Church is in the base of the building — around the corner from the main hotel entrance — and the pastor and a few other people affiliated with the church had purchased apartments in the building before it became a hotel. The church owns the property, and Electra America has a 49-year lease on the building.

“We met with them early on and let them know we would do it in a very respectful manner,” said Larry Korman, the president and CEO of AKA. “They were our guests at AKA Times Square [during construction]. There were five other guests who had purchased rooms there as their residences.”

Construction began two years ago and is expected to wrap up this month. The hotel held a soft opening last month with discounted room rates for people who stayed while workers put the finishing touches on common areas.

Russ Urban, the CEO of Electra America, added that “you would have no idea that there’s a church on the ground floor, because the hotel doesn’t interface with the church at all.”

He explained that when they purchased the property, “it was a three-star boutique hotel, and it had tiny rooms with tiny bathrooms. We were gonna make this into a high-end, four-star boutique property with AKA affiliation, and a high-end wine bar in the lobby. We customized every room and the bathrooms.”

Lissoni, the architect, also created custom furniture for the hotel, including gray Midcentury-inspired arm chairs and a tall suspended glass chandelier for the wine bar, low gray couches and circular metal tables for the lounge areas, and bright green bench seats for the breakfast area.

Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached at rbairdremba@commercialobserver.com