Gay developer seeks redemption in new venture after supporting Ted Cruz & tanking his business

Author: Greg Owen

Developers in New York City’s always-turbulent real estate market often find themselves looking for a second act, and gay Republican developer Ian Reisner is doing just that. His attempt, however, is also a quest for redemption from the LGBTQ+ community.

Reisner told the New York Post he’s in talks with a European boutique hotel to operate the low-slung, 103-room building at 510 W. 42nd St. between 10th and 11th Avenues and plans to open in September.

“It’s a gay hotel where straight friends and family are welcome too. It’s a reorientation,” Reisner told the Post, adding that’s “a kind of play on words.” The developer has yet to announce a name for the new project.

Reisner says the hotel will include a 7,500-square foot restaurant and common area open for all-day and late-night dining; a second, 3,000-square foot restaurant; a “mixology-focused” bar; and an “experiential supper-club” in the 14,000-square foot space once occupied by the dance club XL in the hotel’s former gay incarnation.

The neighborhood has since been transformed with new buildings and the addition of the mega-development Hudson Yards, a short walk down 10th Avenue. The developer is looking to exceed the expectations that came with the old hotel’s opening in 2012.

He’ll have to overcome a decade’s worth of poor judgment to do it.

Not long after Out NYC Hotel opened to the public, Reisner earned the enmity of many members of the gay community, including neighbors of the Hell’s Kitchen hotel, as well as residents, visitors and local officials on Fire Island, where Reisner purchased the bulk of commercial real estate in the Pines, including another hotel, the Pavilion dance club, docks and several restaurants and shops.

In the city, Hell’s Kitchen neighbors complained that Out NYC Hotel and Club XL club attracted a rowdy, drunken “bridge and tunnel” crowd to the neighborhood, which is at the eastern terminus of the Lincoln Tunnel from New Jersey.

Reisner was complaining, as well, claiming he wasn’t making any money on the venture because “gays are cheap.”

“Gays are entitled,” he told the Intelligencer in 2015. “Do you know how challenging it is to make a penny off a gay person? ‘I’m gay, I don’t pay cover. I’m gay, where’s my comp drink?’”

In 2015, Reisner bought his Fire Island Pines properties, and over eight years. he defaulted on loans with two lenders and ran into issues with town officials over conditions at the resort. Reisner’s Outpost Pines entity filed for bankruptcy last February.

It was a political fumble, though, that ultimately brought down all of those ventures and revealed Reisner as naive, disingenuous, or both.

In 2015, Reisner and his then-romantic partner Mati Weiderpass hosted then-presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at what they later described as a “fireside chat” in their Central Park South apartment. Cruz was vociferous in his opposition to marriage equality as the Obergefell case was being decided by the Supreme Court. Reisner donated $2,700 to Cruz’s campaign.

In an editorial for the New York Observer, owned by Jared Kushner, Weiderpass complained that the couple’s businesses were being unfairly boycotted and “attacked” by “gay extremists” in the aftermath.

Reisner took a different approach, calling the dinner with Cruz “a terrible mistake.”

“I was ignorant, naïve and much too quick in accepting a request to co-host a dinner with Cruz at my home without taking the time to completely understand all of his positions on gay rights,” Reisner wrote in a Facebook post at the time. “I’ve spent the past 24 hours reviewing videos of Cruz’s statements on gay marriage and I am shocked and angry.”

“I will try my best to make up for my poor judgement,” Reisner added. “Again, I am deeply sorry.”

Six months later, Reisner and Weiderpass held a fundraiser for vehemently anti-gay Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), and donated $2,700 to his campaign, as well.

By then, the damage to Reisner and Weiderpass’s reputations was done.

Among the “gay extremists” who pulled out of events booked for Out NYC Hotel: the New York Gay Men’s Chorus, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Urban Bear and AIDS Walk.

Business at the hotel dried up, and it closed in 2016. Reisner’s Fire Island properties suffered from a decidedly unfriendly local government and a years-long boycott by the politically active community. Those properties went to market for $17.2 million last year.

Adding to a litany of poor choices was an ugly episode that even Ted Cruz overlooked in his search for cash and votes — the fatal overdose in 2014 of a 23-year-old man in Reisner’s apartment, the same Central Park South residence Cruz was trolling for gay dollars.

“We were chased out of the business,” Reisner says now.

Will the gay Republican make a success of his latest NYC hotel? Only if the LGBTQ+ community sits down for a second act.

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Actual Story on LGBTQ Nation
Author: Greg Owen

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