Daily digest: Times Square Margaritaville in jeopardy, Philadelphia bathroom bonanza, architect serial killer, and more!

Wastin’ Away

Daily digest: Times Square Margaritaville in jeopardy, Philadelphia bathroom bonanza, architect serial killer, and more!

Rendering of the high-flying Margaritaville’s outdoor patio and pool, pre-opening (Courtesy Margaritaville/The McBride Company)

TGIF! It was busy news week that saw a number of cultural institutions announce they are dropping architect David Adjaye following allegations of sexual assault and six over-the-top concept designs for the renovation of Dallas Museum of Art. To finish off the wild week, AN editors have rounded up a few more stories you just can’t make up, including the up-in-the-air future of Time Square’s Margaritaville Resort, a Long Island architect arrested for a series of murders, and new loos in Philly.

Paris has had enough of SUVs

The Council of Paris unanimously approved a plan to levy higher parking fees on SUV owners as the French capital continues to pursue a pedestrian—and decarbonization—focused planning approach under the mayorship of Anne Hidalgo. While the legislation has not been finalized yet, the “the size, weight of the vehicle and its motor” may be taken into account in determining costs. The changes are expected to be implemented January 1, 2024. 

The council claims that SUV-use in the city has increased 60 percent in the past four years, and SUVs represent 15 percent of private vehicles parked in Paris. The plans come as Paris has made significant improvements for cyclists and pedestrians over the past few years, with car trips declining after the city vastly expanded bike lanes and made cyclist-travel safer. This of course also means a reduction in emissions, which is all-the-more pressing on the minds of many Parisians as France was swept with deadly heat waves last year. The city is also expanding its metro system across the metropolitan region, components of which have been pushed to finish before the 2024 Summer Olympics come to the city. 

H/t to The Guardian

Times Square may be Margaritaville-less soon

The Times Square Margaritaville’s future is in jeopardy as Soho Properties CEO Sharif El-Gamal moved to place his equity interest in bankruptcy on July 9 ahead of the property’s impending foreclosure the following day. El-Gamal is seeking to refinance $309 million of debt on the 234-room Midtown hotel by “negotiating payoffs” with lenders, though there is no obligation for lenders to honor this request. 

Arden Group, a commercial real estate fund manager and operator, sought to foreclose on El-Gamal’s equity interest, which would go to auction. El-Gamal had previously requested a Manhattan Supreme Court judge to halt the auction, which was denied. This makes the bankruptcy attempt another effort to delay the otherwise-impending foreclosure.

The hotel and accompanying bars and outdoor pool, which opened in 2021, cost $370 million to build. It was appraised between $226 million and $350 million in May, though uncertainty around the property’s stability and future could lower future valuations. Regardless, the site is in a prime commercial location—but the novelty of the Midtown Margaritaville would be a major loss for Jimmy Buffet lovers. 

H/t to The Real Deal

The Phlush in Center City (Courtesy Philadelphia Department of Health and Human Services)

Philadelphia is phlushing away its lack of public bathrooms

Philadelphia has opened its second public toilet under a new name, the Phlush. The long-complained about lack of public toilets in almost every American city is something that the city’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has sought to address through a pilot program. The pilot includes the Center City location that opened this week, and a North Philadelphia location that opened without much publicity last month. The toilets contain a baby-changing station, menstrual products, a needle disposal bin, Naloxone (NARCAN), and on the exterior, hand-washing and hand-sanitizing stations. 

The Philadelphia Inquirer paid a trip to the Center City location on its opening day. They found that most users celebrated the JFK Boulevard addition, and would welcome more across the city. Following some clogging issues about an hour after opening, the city said that they had fixed the issue within 30 minutes, and that there are three workers assigned to clean the bathrooms at two-hour intervals. The bathrooms are open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends, and service requests can be placed via 311 (with signage for this posted on the bathroom). In other news about public agencies making everyday experiences ever-so-slightly dignifying, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has begun reopening renovated bathrooms in subway stations. 

H/t to The Philadelphia Inquirer 

An architect has been arrested as a suspected serial killer

Rex Heuermann, architect and founder of RH Consultants and Associates, was arrested last night in connection with the Gilgo Beach Murders—so called for the ten bodies that were dug up on Gilgo Beach and long thought to be perpetrated by a serial killer. The New York Post has reported that Heuermann is only tied to four of the ten victims, known as the “Gilgo Four,” whose bodies were discovered together in 2010. 

RH has previously completed work on Target, Foot Locker, Burlington Coat Factory, Savoir Beds, and Cipriani locations in New York City, in addition to residential work. They also offer consulting work on New York City–specific matters including zoning, building code, and Landmark Preservation Commission matters. 

H/t to The New York Post