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Times Square’s Empty Rooms Signal Reckoning for NYC Hotels

  • Missed loan payments are piling up as hoteliers seek relief
  • Shuttered properties could be converted into apartments
A near empty Times Square on May 12.
A near empty Times Square on May 12.Photographer: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images
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The Hilton Times Square occupies a normally busy stretch of 42nd Street, where tourists jostle for space in front of the Madame Tussauds wax museum and a popular Dave & Buster’s. Now, the sidewalks are empty and the hotel’s owner is warning investors it may surrender the property.

The global hospitality industry is facing the worst downturn in its history, and New York, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., is poised for a painful recovery. Even when travel resumes, the Manhattan hotel market’s reliance on international travel and large conferences will make it hard for owners to cover debt payments and labor costs.