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Historic Ocean Liner May Get Second Life as Hotel, or an Airbnb

RXR Realty plans $500 million conversion of ‘most famous ship that didn’t sink’

The retired SS United States ocean liner docked at Pier 82 in Philadelphia, on Feb. 28.

The retired SS United States ocean liner docked at Pier 82 in Philadelphia, on Feb. 28.

Photographer: Hannah Yoon

Scott Rechler was negotiating a deal to build Airbnb rentals in a Manhattan office tower when the real estate developer had an epiphany. Tree houses and other unconventional lodgings were popular on the home-sharing site. Why not a ship?

Rechler, chief executive officer of RXR Realty, had a vessel in mind. For decades, cruise operators and real estate people have been trying to revive a mothballed ocean liner called the SS United States. Encouraged by his conversations with Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Rechler decided to take the plunge.