Sydell Group Launches Brooklyn Hotel with Dorms for Bard

Sydell Group’s Andrew Zobler and rendering of a hotel room at his new Williamsburg establishment (LinkedIn, Sydell Group)

A new Brooklyn property from Andrew Zobler’s Sydell Group promises to be a learning experience: It’s a hybrid of housing for students and a hotel.

The hotel, titled Penny Williamsburg and located at 288 North 8th Street, will offer 102 rooms for Bard Graduate Center students and other scholars, plus 118 for hotel guests.

Five blocks northwest, the Sydell Group paid the Rosenwach Group $10 million for three parcels along Wythe Avenue in late 2012 with plans to create a hotel, but the project was sold the following year to Hoxton for $17 million and became the Hoxton Williamsburg. Zobler’s firm has developed other hotel concepts, including NoMad, LINE and Freehand.

The hotel portion of Penny Williamsburg opens today, Aug. 18, and the dormitories will welcome students beginning in January. Bard College is in Dutchess County, but Bard Graduate Center is on West 86th Street in Manhattan.

The rooftop lobby’s bar and restaurant are expected to open early 2023, along with two rooftop terraces offering panoramic views of the Williamsburg and Manhattan skylines.

Sydell Group said the dormitory partnership was inspired by the group’s former work with Bard at Freehand, where all 395 guest rooms have murals hand-painted by Bard students and alumni.

As part of a wider initiative with Bard, Sydell Group launched a multi-disciplinary artist residency at the Freehand, where students can use its rooftop art studio and show or curate work in the hotel’s public spaces.

“We felt that it presented an interesting opportunity for an integrated approach and to collaborate on the art program throughout the hotel,” said Zobler, the Sydell Group founder and CEO, who has served on Bard’s board for the Performing Arts Center for years, in a statement.

Partnering with the liberal arts college isn’t the only way the hotel is incorporating the arts. It is also partnering with two local arts organizations, LAND Gallery and Pure Vision Arts, by providing the ground floor as an art gallery and donating $1 from each reservation to the organizations.

The property features installations by artist Yuko Nishikawa and other local artists. The portrait of Penny at the hotel entrance was commissioned by artist and Bard graduate Michelle Devereux.

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