Developer Gal Sela
One of NYC’s hippest hotels, the Paper Factory, came to exist by accident, and its owner, Gal Sela, found a new career in the process. Sela, a real estate developer, was planning to convert the former factory in Long Island City into a youth hostel. Just weeks before construction was to begin, New York City enacted new zoning laws banning youth hostels.
Artists, Musicians & Actors
Sela decided to turn the place into a hotel, but realized it needed to stand out from the crowd. “Nobody really needed another hotel.” he said. His goal was to attract artists, musicians and actors to the hotel and its acclaimed restaurant, Mundo. It’s location is conveniently adjacent to the Kaufman Studios in Queens, where many television shows and movies shoot, so creative people are always in the area. It’s also a short ride to Midtown Manhattan, and, Sela pointed out, parking is easy in this area.
He spent a year reimagining the space, sourcing décor from around the globe. “I decided let’s go with it all the way. The furniture is state-of-the-art. Every piece in the hotel is unique. I traveled all over, to Europe and Morocco, and Vietnam, China, India, Israel and Turkey, and picked a lot of the items.” The result he describes as “very industrial chic,” incorporating a lot of the existing factory elements, like printing machines and doors from the old elevators. They polished the concrete floors, and saved the old wooden floors.
Emerging Artists & Unique Finishes
Sela chose all the finishes and furnishings himself, working closely with architect David Howell of the firm DHD. A library of 4,000 old books was turned into a column – literally, there is a column made of books. Curtains in the rooms are denim, sustainably made in the U.S. For artwork, Sela worked with Miami-based curator Oliver Gal, which represents edgy, younger artists. He strove to remain cost-conscious on the project, because the rooms are large, and priced under $300 per night, a rarity in New York.
Mundo, the restaurant, is popular with both locals and hotel guests. “What we do there is dishes from all over the world, and because, we have a lot of international guests coming, everyone can relate to a dish that your grandmother made, or your mom made,” Sela explained. He added that while the atmosphere is upscale, the prices are reasonable. The bar at Mundo is also very active, offering an excellent mixology program and specialty cocktails. Mundonewyork.com (718) 706-8636
The Paper Factory’s annual summer party has become an institution since the hotel opened in late 2013. Sela’s birthday falls on July 31, and that was the impetus for the party; the first one attracted four hundred people, so they decided to make it an annual happening. This summer, 3,500 people turned out for the July 28 bash. “We had a lot of different artists and musicians, and we had this crazy, crazy party,” he laughed.
Paper Factory Hotel
37-06 36th St Long Island City, NY 11101 (718) 392-7200