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Thread: The Plaza Hotel - 768 Fifth Avenue at Central Park South - by Henry J Hardenbergh

  1. #16

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    January 26, 2005

    Condos and Stores Planned for Plaza

    By JAMES BARRON


    The Plaza Hotel, which will close for changes by April 30, was bought by an Israeli developer for $675 million last fall.

    The Plaza Hotel, where F. Scott Fitzgerald drank and Alfred Hitchcock directed and Truman Capote held sway and Eloise romped, will close by April 30 to be divided into three parts - condominiums, stores and a much smaller hotel.

    Confirming rumors that had swirled in real estate circles for months, the real estate developer who bought the Plaza last fall said yesterday that the 805-room hotel would be turned into a multipurpose building.

    The developer, Miki Naftali, president and chief executive of Elad Properties, said he was planning 200 one- to four-bedroom condos, mainly on the Plaza's upper floors, facing Fifth Avenue and Central Park South. He said that a hotel with 150 rooms, just under a fifth the number the Plaza has now, would occupy much of the 58th Street side of the building.

    The ornate Grand Ballroom and the multilevel Terrace Room - where countless cocktail parties and galas and wedding receptions have been held over the years - would be turned into space for stores. Two subbasement levels will also be renovated for retailers, he said.

    But some of the Plaza's most visible and venerable public spaces will reopen after being given nothing more than what he called cosmetic touchups: the Palm Court, the airy centerpiece of the lobby; the restaurant at the building's northeast corner that was long known as the Edwardian Room (and closed after being renamed One CPS); and the Oak Room and the Oak Bar, with their dark-paneled walls. But the restaurants will be operated separately from the hotel and are likely to be turned over to outside restaurateurs.

    Mr. Naftali's company, which is owned by Yitzhak Tshuva, an Israeli developer, paid $675 million for the Plaza. Mr. Naftali said the renovation would cost at least $100 million.

    The Plaza's fortresslike exterior was designated a city landmark in 1969. Its interior has never been given landmark status.

    "It's not that we feel we're restricted" because it has landmark status, Mr. Naftali said, "we can't think of changing it. I don't need to put huge signage on the building to call people to come in."

    Officials of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission said that any interior designation would have covered only the public spaces - not the individual rooms, which Mr. Naftali and his architects want to combine to make larger apartments in the condominium.

    The developer's team also envisions relocating bathrooms and installing kitchens, although he said that one reason to live there would be to order takeout meals from the restaurants in the lobby.

    "Our plan is to keep the integrity of the spaces," Mr. Naftali said. "The challenge is to refresh the space."

    He said that the Plaza, which opened in 1907, was "worn down" and needed to be brought up to modern standards. "It's amazing people think it's one of the best hotels in the world," he said. "It's not. But look at the space."

    Mr. Naftali said the renovations would begin as soon as the Plaza closes and the employees are laid off. He said the hotel had already given 60 days' notice to 176 workers in the Oak Room, the Oyster Bar and adjacent kitchen areas.

    The hotel's 800 or so other employees will receive formal notification, as required by the Plaza's contract with the hotel workers union, by the end of February. But Mr. Naftali said managers had already begun telling those workers that the hotel would shut down in the spring.

    Peter Ward, president of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, said he had met with Mr. Naftali and was concerned about the loss of so many jobs. "We're working toward resolution of an exit agreement," Mr. Ward said.

    As Mr. Naftali sees it, the Plaza's registration area, on the Central Park South side of the first floor, will serve as the entrance to the condos. The new hotel will be reached from the Rose Room, a high-ceilinged space that once housed a nightclub off the hotel's Fifth Avenue lobby.

    "When you walk through the Plaza and you see so many gorgeous rooms," Mr. Naftali said, "we thought, 'how could we convert those spaces to residential?' We are keeping the integrity of those famous rooms."

    Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the Landmarks Commission, said that part of Mr. Naftali's plan for the building "raises enough questions that we'd have to take a look at it."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  2. #17
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    NEW PLAZA SWEET

    By STEVE CUOZZO
    PHOTO PALM COURT: SAVED

    http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/38844.htm

    January 26, 2005 -- The landmarked Plaza hotel, fabled in New York song and story, will be reborn as a glamorous condo-hotel destination boasting a five-level department store and luxurious new restaurants, its new owner said yesterday.

    Elad Properties chief Miki Naftali said the 800-room Plaza will close on April 30 for 16 to 18 months. It will reopen in late 2006 with 200 luxury condos on upper floors and with a 150-room hotel on the 58th Street side.

    For all its fame as the setting for movies like "Plaza Suite" and as home to bratty literary mascot Eloise, The Plaza lost money under its previous owners.

    The conversion of many rooms into condos was widely expected in a booming apartment-sale market.

    But the announcement shot down a batch of false rumors that were rampant since Elad, a unit of Yitzhak Tshuva's Israeli-owned El-ad Group, bought the hotel last summer for $675 million.

    Despite preservationists' fears, several beloved interior spaces — the Grand Ballroom, Palm Court and Oak Room — will be kept largely as they are, Naftali says, even though none enjoys landmark-law protection as The Plaza exterior does.

    The Oak Room will be reopened as a restaurant. The Palm Court, "like a piazza in Italy," will lead visitors at the main Fifth Avenue entrance to what might be the project's most unusual feature: a five- or six-story department store to be constructed entirely within the existing building.

    The fabled Grand Ballroom — site of Truman Capote's legendary "Black and White" ball — will be kept "structurally as it is" and be part of the store, "similar to Harrods in London," rich in impressive architectural spaces.

    Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, a preservation-advocacy group, said, "We appreciate that the new owners intend to treat the historic interiors with respect. We look forward to seeing the plans to see if they're successful in doing this."

    To fill the 150,000- square-foot store, Naftali says he's talking to a "very high-end retail operator, even more exclusive than Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue or Harrods."

    The hotel will be on The Plaza's 58th Street side — so no rooms will have park views. The Rose Room at the southeast corner — once a nightclub but used in recent decades for meetings — will become the hotel lounge. The northeast corner, where the One C.P.S. restaurant has closed, will be a new restaurant — not a store as was widely reported.

    Naftali is aware that some New Yorkers will be upset by the temporary closing, but he says the plan will open The Plaza up to the public as never before.

    "The reality of the ballroom, for example, is that if you're not invited to a wedding there, you may never use it," he said.

    "Now, most of these gorgeous rooms will be open to the public. They should be an amenity for the city."

    Unlike at some other high-end condo projects, the new Plaza apartments will not be gigantic. The largest will be around 3,500 square feet, Naftali said, "although if a customer asked for 8,000 feet, we could accommodate them."

    A typical Plaza hotel room pre-closing is about 500 square feet.

    Dottie Herman, CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman, said, "I once stayed there two or three days a week for a year. And every time, I thought, 'My God — why don't they have condos here?'

    "Today, people are really buying a lifestyle, and owning one at The Plaza will be like living in a hotel, but you own it."

    She predicted units will sell for $2,500-$3,000 a square foot, comparing favorably with most condos at super-luxury projects like the Time Warner Center and One Beacon Court.

  3. #18
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    So a dept. store in the Plaza...pretty slick. It will be like Harrod's, it seems, but more high end than Bergdorf...HUH???

    Also, I like the 150 room total. Much better than the 80. This plan, overall, sounds like a great renovation for the Plaza. It will make it more of a gem than before.

  4. #19

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    I hope something like Saks comes in. I love designer clothes!

  5. #20

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    The only department stores more exclusive than Bergdorf Goodman would be Henri Bendel or Barneys, no?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schadenfrau
    The only department stores more exclusive than Bergdorf Goodman would be Henri Bendel or Barneys, no?
    I think it might be something from outside the US. I think Bergdorf would be much more exclusive than Barney's BG is sick. It's more exclusive than Saks, too.

  7. #22

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    Ive never been in either BG or Barneys. Although I frequent Bloomies and Saks when Im in town.

  8. #23

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    If they destroy the gatsbyesque feeling of the plaza I will kill these people.

  9. #24

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    Preservationists Worry About Plaza Hotel Interiors

    February 8, 2005



    New York City’s Plaza Hotel has been one of the world’s most famous for nearly a century. But this coming April, for the first time in its history, the hotel is due to close. The Plaza’s new owner, Elad Properties, is planning to build a luxury department store inside the structure and convert most of the hotel rooms to luxury condominiums. The impending renovation has raised concern in New York City’s preservation community about the fate of the Plaza’s historic interior public spaces.

    While the exterior of the Plaza was one of the city’s first landmarks to be designated, the hotel’s interior public spaces do not have landmark status. The preservationists are particularly worried about the Oak Room restaurant and the hotel’s ballroom.

    The German Renaissance style Oak Room is virtually unchanged since it was built in 1907. It retains its original ornately carved wood walls, elaborate chandeliers, and murals of the Bavarian countryside. And the Beaux-Arts style ballroom built in 1921 is one of New York City’s four remaining grand hotel ballrooms.

    A New York-based team comprised of Gal Nauer Architects and Costas Kondylis and Partners is finalizing plans for the renovation. No structural changes will be made to the Plaza’s historic interiors says Steve Solomon, an Elad Properties spokesperson. But Solomon maintains that the hotel needs fixing up. “ A lot of the stuff, even the woodwork is worn out and some of the doors are in bad shape,” he says, adding, “They {the owners} are going to respect the architectural integrity of the spaces, but where enhancement or upgrading is needed they are going to do it.”

    The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission has not yet decided whether the Oak Room and the ballroom merit landmark status. But the Commission’s chairman Robert Tierney says that the interiors in question are noteworthy and that his agency is looking into the matter. In addition, Tierney maintains that because the Commission already regulates the Plaza’s exterior, it should be able to influence the owner to preserve the Oak Room and the ballroom even though those areas do not have landmark status. “They {the owners} are already under our jurisdiction, ”he says, “so when we call them in because we are interested in other parts of the building, it gets attention.”

    Some preservationists say that it makes business sense for Elad Properties to preserve the Plaza’s historic interiors. “Preserving those spaces will enhance their {the developer’s} bottom line and serious alterations would be a public relations disaster,” says Peg Breen, president of the Landmarks Conservancy, a New York City based preservation group.

    But others say that the Oak Room and the ballroom are in jeopardy because they do not have protection under the city’s landmarks laws. “This owner may choose to respect the architectural integrity of the interiors but who knows what is going to happen two years from now, “ says Anthony Dolkart, professor of Architectural History at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture Preservation and Planning, adding “Even if they respect the interiors now, next year they could decide to rip them out and they have the legal right to do so because these spaces have not been designated as landmarks.”

    By Alex Ulam

    http://archrecord.construction.com/n...plazaHotel.asp

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    NYSun

    Harrods May Check in at Plaza

    BY JULIE SATOW - Staff Reporter of the Sun
    February 11, 2005

    Front-runners for the retail space that the owners of the Plaza hotel plan to create include two British department stores, Harrods and Harvey Nichols, and an American spa chain, Canyon Ranch, according to retail brokers who are working on the deals.

    The negotiations with the luxury tenants are progressing even as workers at the Plaza try to scuttle plans by developer Elad Properties to convert the landmark hotel into condominiums and retail space. The employees plan to rally on Thursday to protest the closure, and they expect a turnout of several thousand - including some elected officials - a union spokesman, John Turchiano, said. Elected officials who have so far agreed to attend include Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and the City Council member who represents the district, Eva Moskowitz.

    The 800-room hotel is scheduled to shut April 30 for 16 to 18 months to be transformed into 200 luxury condominiums, a 150-room hotel, and 150,000 square feet of retail space. As a result of the closing, 900 union hotel workers will lose their jobs, as will 200 non-union employees in managerial positions at the hotel.

    Meanwhile, a source in the real estate industry told The New York Sun yesterday that the two leading auction houses, Sotheby's and Christie's, are in negotiations with Elad Properties to auction off the contents of the hotel after its doors close. The auction would take place sometime in the spring, the source said.

    The auction could bring intense interest, with objects ranging from furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, to the bed from the Vanderbilt Suite where numerous heads of state slept, to objects immortalized by movies such as Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 classic "North by Northwest."

    Next week's rally is part of a $1 million effort by the hotel workers' union, which includes an advertising campaign and a "Save the Plaza" committee.

    Talks between the Plaza employees and Elad Properties stalled this week after workers turned down the developer's offer to double their severance package if they would sign waivers stating they would have no right to return to work at the Plaza, according to sources involved in the negotiations. The severance package in the union contract gives the workers, many of whom had held out hope of returning to work at the Plaza after renovations, four days' pay for every year of employment, plus six months of extended medical coverage.

    "The Plaza is the flagship hotel of New York, and anyone can walk in and eat in the restaurants, or get a room in the hotel overlooking Central Park," Mr. Turchiano said. "What they are doing is like selling a piece of Central Park."

    The union, the New York Hotel Trades Council, will take "every step possible to preserve the Plaza as a hotel for all the people of New York," he said.

    A spokesman for Elad Properties, Steve Solomon, said: "The owners have put in $775 million to redevelop and revitalize the Plaza, which their own union officials have called a three-star hotel at best. The owners offered a generous severance package that more than satisfies their legal and contractual obligations."

    While elected officials have largely remained quiet on the topic, Community Board 5 passed a resolution last night calling for the Plaza to remain a hotel and for the interior of the building to be given landmark designation. The exterior of the building is land marked and cannot be changed, but the interior is not protected.

    The union negotiations with the Plaza could collide with a visit by the site-evaluation commission of the International Olympic Committee, which is set to arrive on February 20 and stay at the Plaza during its four days in the city. The hotel workers union supports the effort to bring the Olympics to New York in 2012, and the spokesman said its difficulties with the Plaza will not affect the IOC visit.

    "We fully support the NYC2012 effort and our members are delighted that the Olympic Committee is coming to New York," Mr. Turchiano said. "We will do nothing to interfere with the Olympic committee, except to make sure the IOC has the best time while they are here in NYC and hopefully choose our city for the 2012 games."

    While Elad Properties is continuing to run the Plaza as a hotel until its closure at the end of April, its main focus is on the renovation plans. In addition to building and selling condominiums, which are to be sold exclusively through the Stribling brokerage, the developer is looking to sell, rather than lease, the 150,000 square feet of retail space, brokers familiar with the plans said.

    The decision to sell the retail space, either to a retail investor or directly to a retailer, is not uncommon, real estate insiders said.

    "Sometimes developers want to liquefy the investment, sell the whole thing off, and put all the money into the next deal," one retail broker, who asked not to be quoted by name, said.

    "The benefit of selling the retail upfront is that the money is taken off the table," another retail broker, Adelaide Polsinelli of Besen & Associates, said.

    Ms. Polsinelli estimated that the retail space at the Plaza, which she calls the "Tiffany of all buildings," could be sold for up to $2,000 a square foot, for a total of $300 million.

    As for the likely contenders, brokers said it is more likely that if Harrods were to take retail space at the Plaza it would be for a food hall, similar to the gourmet food mart in the basement level of its flagship London store. With both prepared and fresh food, a similar store would be the right size for the relatively small retail space available at the Plaza.

    Harrods has publicly denied having any interest in opening an American outpost. Harvey Nichols could not be reached for comment.

    A Canyon Ranch spokeswoman, Katie Garber, confirmed that its development team is looking at the Plaza, among other sites.

    "Canyon Ranch is interested in building its brand with additional properties, and our development team is exploring all the major urban markets, including the Plaza in New York," Ms. Garber said.

    The most likely option for a Canyon Ranch at the Plaza would be its Spa-Club, or day spa, similar to ones it has opened recently in Las Vegas and on the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship, Ms. Garber said, adding that the company is not close to signing any deal.

  11. #26

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    I jsut dont know, Harrods would be great but come on, the Plaza is an American icon. I love the Britts but you wouldnt put a nike store in the Arc de Triumph.

  12. #27

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    February 17, 2005

    Mayor Intervenes in Plans for Condo Conversion of the Plaza

    By JAMES BARRON

    ayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday indicated his support for the hotel-worker union's campaign against a condominium-conversion plan for the Plaza Hotel and invited the developer and union officials to Gracie Mansion to talk, his spokesman said.

    The mayor met with the president of the union, Peter Ward, in the afternoon. Later, Mr. Bloomberg's spokesman, Edward Skyler, said both sides had agreed to get together at Gracie Mansion last night.

    "The Plaza is an icon, and the mayor would like to see it remain an icon that welcomes visitors from all over the world," Mr. Skyler said. "Peter Ward knows the mayor's committed to the hotel industry, not just keeping hotel jobs in the city but creating more."

    The union has stepped up its campaign against the condominium plan, accusing the developer of violating its contract by not providing details of the plans. Mr. Ward said he was considering seeking an injunction to force the developer, Elad Properties, to hand over such materials.

    The union, which has formed a "Save the Plaza" committee and set aside $1 million to fight the closing, is also planning a noontime rally today outside the hotel's Fifth Avenue entrance, between 58th Street and Central Park South.

    Mr. Skyler said that the mayor "would like to go to the rally" but that a scheduling conflict might prevent it.

    Elad bought the Plaza last fall for $675 million. It wants to turn the imposing hotel into a multipurpose building with stores and a far smaller hotel as well as the condominiums.

    A spokesman for Elad, Steve Solomon, said he was unaware of any meeting with Mr. Bloomberg.

    As for Mr. Skyler's comment about the Plaza's status as an icon and the mayor's hope that it can continue to house travelers, Mr. Solomon said, "I hope the mayor understands what the Plaza plan is, because the Elad plan is to make it an icon property for the 21st century."

    The union has begun mobilizing its members and seeking support among lawmakers, architecture historians and celebrities. The union said the actress Kate Capshaw and the columnist Liz Smith had agreed to let their names be used by the "Save the Plaza" committee. Betsy Gotbaum, the city's public advocate, is among the public officials who support the committee.

    The union has also taken the first step toward having parts of the Plaza's interior designated as a landmark by filing papers with the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. The exterior was designated a landmark in the 1960's, but the interior never was. Commission officials say they have met with officials from Elad, which says it plans no structural changes in what it calls the Plaza's "most cherished interior spaces," including the Palm Court, Grand Ballroom and Oak Room.

    Mr. Ward also suggested trying "tax breaks to keep the jobs" in place. About 900 workers would be laid off if the hotel closes, he said. "We think the continued closure of hotels eliminates the best jobs in the city for blue-collar people," Mr. Ward said, "and the city can't afford that."

    Elad said last month that the employees would receive formal notification, as required by contract, by the end of February.

    Mr. Ward also dismissed Elad's plan for a small hotel, mainly on the 58th Street side of the building, saying it would "create the minimum amount of jobs where the maximum amount now exists." Elad, which says the Plaza has been declining for years, describes the hotel component of the new Plaza as "the finest 150-room five-star hotel on the planet."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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    Quote Originally Posted by RedFerrari360f1
    Good job mayor.
    I don't think so. Maybe the city should provide incentives for hoteliers to open or expand in the city. The developer paid $675 million with certain plans in mind. Plus, it's not like the hotel is closing or that the historic interiors will be altered (supposedly). The plan is pretty good and responsible, I think.

  15. #30

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    February 26, 2005

    Union Asks Plaza's Owner to Reduce Condo Portion

    By JAMES BARRON

    he hotel workers' union has suggested converting less of the Plaza Hotel into condominiums than its owner has in mind.

    The union president, Peter Ward, said he made the suggestion on Thursday at a meeting at City Hall with representatives of the owner, Elad Properties. It was the second meeting of the two sides since Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg intervened last week.

    Elad bought the Plaza, the storied but lately somewhat worn home of the fictional character Eloise and one-time stomping ground of F. Scott Fitzgerald, for $675 million last fall. Its president and chief executive, Miki Naftali, said last month that he was planning 200 one- to four-bedroom condos.

    He also said that a hotel with 150 rooms - far fewer than the 800 or so that the Plaza has now - would occupy much of the 58th Street side of the castlelike building on Fifth Avenue. The third element of Elad's plan is retail space encompassing the ornate Grand Ballroom, the Terrace Room behind the Palm Court and two subbasement levels.

    Mr. Ward said he had suggested that the Plaza "remain substantially a hotel" by putting condominiums in only 25 percent of the 18-story building, on the top floors. The rest of the Plaza would continue to have guest rooms. He has mentioned pressing the city for tax breaks for Elad and other possible moves to help Elad financially.

    His union represents the Plaza's 900 workers, who stand to lose their jobs. Before the union formed a "Save the Plaza" committee and began mobilizing members and celebrities to fight the condominium conversion, Elad was negotiating a severance package with the union and planning to close the hotel by May 1.

    A spokesman for Elad would not discuss details of the City Hall session. "I don't think it's in anybody's interest to talk openly about it," he said. "Until something really is agreed upon, it's silly to talk about these things."

    People who have seen Elad's architectural drawings said they call for putting escalators in space now occupied by balconies in the Grand Ballroom and in the Baroque Room next door.

    Elad has repeatedly said it plans no structural changes in the hotel. But the people who have seen the drawings said the escalators would appear to require Elad to break through the floor.

    The drawings also call for putting escalators in the Terrace Room, these people said, and for walling off the balconies in the Grand Ballroom.

    That would appear to be a departure from the plan Mr. Naftali outlined on a walk through the Plaza last month. "The ballroom, we are going to leave it as is," he said then. "We are not changing the integrity of the space; we are not changing the design of the space."

    Yesterday, the spokesman for Elad, Steve Solomon, said the plans for retail space "are still in early stages" and "will not be finalized until a specific user is identified."

    He added, "There is no user right now."

    He said Elad did not intend to "change the terms" of its plan for "keeping the integrity of the space."

    The Plaza's fortresslike exterior was designated a city landmark in 1969. Its interior has never been given landmark status.

    But Elad officials have met with officials of the city's Landmarks Commission, and the union has filed papers to designate the interior as a landmark. Robert B. Tierney, the commission's chairman, said Thursday that the commission's staff was continuing its review of the matter.

    Mr. Solomon, the Elad spokesman, said Elad officials had never told him of plans to install escalators or elevators in the retail space.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

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