Over the past decade, developer Sam Chang and his McSam Hotel Group have built an astonishing number of hotels in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and in the process have built up quite the reputation for pockmarking the city with characterless tower blocks that diminish their surroundings. One of the developer’s latest ventures is a 26-story, 566-room hotel beginning excavation work at 334 West 36th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.
Once occupied by the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, the mid-block English Gothic structure was built as the Christ Church Memorial Building in 1905. The savvy developer purchased the 15,000-square-foot site in 2013 for $50.8 million in anticipation for yet another hotel. Local preservationists connected with Community Board 4 to convince Chang to save the church facade and incorporate it with the new building. Surprisingly, he obliged, but the Gene Kaufman-designed structure is not quite a miracle.