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

  1. #61

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    The Plaza's Crown Jewels Go Up for Auction Tomorrow

    BY A.L. GORDON - Staff Reporter of the Sun
    March 14, 2006
    URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/29063

    Tomorrow the auction house Christie's will be selling off the creme de la creme contents of the Plaza Hotel, plucked by its curators before a liquidation sale last spring.

    The public viewing, which started Saturday and runs through today, has attracted large numbers of people intrigued by the emotional value of the objects as much as - if not more than - their face value. Prices are expected to range from $500 to $18,000.

    The buyers are varied, and include locals and an international crowd. "The Plaza is so New York, and so not New York. Whether you went to a wedding there or stayed there or had drinks at Trader Vic's, it belongs to everybody," the director of special collections at Christie's, Cathy Elkies, said.

    But what's got New York society talking isn't doorknobs and vases, pianos and teacups, but rather the private party the auction house is hosting tonight, a re-creation of Truman Capote's famous Black and White Ball of November 28, 1966.

    "It's a celebration of Truman's seminal event, and it also celebrates the sale. The ball represented the spirit of the Plaza for decades," Ms. Elkies said.

    Capote's ball made history by bringing together celebrities, socialites, and politicians, as well as journalists, who drained the first of many wells of ink on the subject. The party honored Katharine Graham, and called for black-and-white attire and masks. Capote poured as much creative energy into its planning as he did into writing his books.

    Tonight, the Christie's ballroom will be wrapped in an artist's rendering of the Plaza's ballroom, and decorated with the hotel's sconces, chairs, and dance floor - all items to be sold tomorrow.

    The chairman of Christie's, Stephen Lash, is filling Capote's role as host, and there's no honoree, but rather a corporate partner, Bentley Motors, which will be providing transportation for some guests.

    On the guest list are people who attended Capote's party, such as Phyllis Newman, Kenneth Jay Lane, Kitty Carlisle Hart, and Wendy Vanderbilt Lehman; baby boomer socialites, such as Jamee Gregory, who plans to wear a vintage Bill Blass dress "if it fits," and members of the young set, such as Zani Gugelman and Lauren DuPont, who are planning to wear masks by Badgley Mischka. In other words, a predictable New York party crowd, varied in age but not so much in the worlds they come from.

    "Obviously it will bring back some wonderful memories, and of course one will be comparing. But it's unfair to compare what we're going to see to the likes of Douglas Fairbanks dancing with Lauren Bacall," the band leader who played that night and will play again tonight, Peter Duchin, said.

    The author of a book on Capote's party published this month, "The Party of the Century" (Wiley), Deborah Davis, said Capote picked the Plaza Hotel for its glamour and its favored status among writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, and because the ballroom was so intimate. "He definitely wanted his party to have that feeling, that it was private and not commercial," Ms. Davis said.

    The menu starts with black and white sweets - eclairs, lady fingers, and homemade white marshmallows striped with extra bittersweet chocolate - and finishes with a midnight breakfast - scrambled eggs, Plaza chicken hash, buckwheat blinis with creme fraiche and caviar, and lots of muffins.

    The event is by invitation only, and doesn't even require the purchase of a ticket. The sale, however, is open to all comers.

    Of the items in the auction, Ms. Davis is most attached to the mirrors. "So many of the photographs from the party show the guests adjusting their masks in the mirror. It makes you think about all of the people over the years who have looked in those mirrors and may be looking back at you," Ms. Davis said.

    Alas, with little room in her Montclair, N.J., home, she's thinking of buying something more practical. "I'll probably wind up bidding on the copper pots and pans. Both my husband and I cook," Ms. Davis said.

    And if there's any justice, some young female Eloise fan will wind up with the pair of her red shoes. "I saw a girl looking at them Sunday, and I'm sure her parents will be back. Forget Manolo Blahnik. That girl wanted those shoes," Ms. Davis said.

    While the decorating authority Ms. Gregory said she doubts the auction items will make their way into the fabulous Park and Fifth Avenue residences profiled in her book, "New York Apartments" (Rizzoli), ritzy interior designers are taking an interest.

    "We're definitely going to the auction," a spokeswoman for the event and interior design firm Antony Todd, Caroline Kramer, said.

    The interior designer John Barman said he was looking at the chandeliers. "Too bad I just finished decorating my client Neil Simon's place," Mr. Barman said. Mr. Simon, the playwright, wrote "Plaza Suite," the play and film set at the hotel.

    Because of the emotional factor in the auction, it's difficult to predict what items will go for. But it's clear that a piece of the old Plaza will be cheaper than the new. Apartments - scheduled for occupancy in early 2007, the building's centennial year - are priced at $2 million to $33 million.

  2. #62

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    March 19, 2006
    Street Level | Midtown
    History, With a Private Entrance
    By JOHN FREEMAN GILL



    IT wasn't quite King Kong making himself at home atop the Empire State Building, but the Plaza Hotel received its first condominium residents around New Year's Day, when a gargantuan, glamorous woman and her equally enormous blond daughter appeared on the building's Fifth Avenue facade, dwarfing the pedestrians below.

    The two are depicted in a four-story-tall billboard that shows them relaxing in a magnificent Plaza living room adorned with a chandelier and suffused with buttery sunlight. The image conveys a lifestyle so radiant that the gilded figures of Winged Victory and Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in a nearby statue now look as if they are hurrying across Grand Army Plaza to buy a condo whose golden surroundings will suit them perfectly.

    In December, after 98 years in which not even goddesses or war heroes could take permanent possession of any of the hotel's rooms, the Plaza's new owners, Elad Properties, began marketing 182 luxury apartments. So began the formal transformation of the storied hotel rooms on the Central Park and Fifth Avenue sides of the building into private condos.



    The Plaza, a French Renaissance-style landmark, has had personal resonance for generations of New Yorkers, and the urge to own even a scrap of the hotel is so powerful that bidding was brisk on Wednesday at a Christie's auction of Plaza bric-a-brac like martini glasses. So while some in the neighborhood feel a profound sense of loss at the selling off of the hotel's plum rooms, for buyers of the new condos, the chance to possess a grand chunk of city history can be thrilling.

    "To own a piece of the Plaza, that's the main thing," said Barbara Girard, a native New Yorker who made sure she was one of the first to make the trip up the red carpet on Central Park South for a sales presentation. "How special is that?"

    Ms. Girard, who was married at the hotel in the 1960's, signed a contract in January to buy a two-bedroom apartment near the top floor, which she plans to connect to a one-bedroom that her mother bought next door.

    Living in a private apartment within a hotel building will be, Ms. Girard said, "like a fairy tale" because it will combine the best of two lifestyles. "We have all the hotel services we need, plus all the hotel guests coming in and out, and that is lively," she said. "And then you have your privacy in your residence as well."

    With Plaza condos selling from $2.2 million to about $40 million, buyers like Ms. Girard would seem unlikely candidates to elicit grumbles of "There goes the neighborhood." But that is the sentiment among some nearby residents.

    Bonnie Roche, an architect who lives four blocks south of the hotel, said that once the Plaza reopened next year, she would resent the building every time she walked past, even though its owners insist that beloved spaces like the Palm Court will remain open to the public as restaurants and shops. "You're going to know that the only rooms you could ever rent are the ones facing 58th Street, not the park, so that dream is lost," Ms. Roche said, referring to the shrinking of the hotel from 800 rooms to 282. "It's not the grand gesture of arms open. It's going to be the whole sense of tight manipulation and of commerce."



    In the opinion of Ms. Girard, who as an owner will come and go freely through the private marble-and-bronze lobby on 59th Street, some neighborhood griping is inevitable. "There's going to be a lot of envy from the other buildings around there," she said.

    But some in the immediate vicinity of the Plaza are, in fact, eagerly awaiting the $350 million polishing of the area's crown jewel, which had deteriorated. "You know we'll have nice neighbors because the price of the apartments is supposed to be quite high," said Boris Lipovsky, a retired doctor who lives nearby on Central Park South.

    Other neighbors predict that the influx of wealthy residents will improve their daily lives by attracting specialty food stores to the building's new retail space. "I just pray every night for Balducci's," said Lynda Wiggins, a real estate broker who rents an apartment on West 58th Street.

    But one businessman wondered if the new multimillion-dollar condos might spell trouble. "You might get people in there who might not want carriages around," said Tom Kelly, a top-hatted carriage driver standing with his horse near the statue of General Sherman. "And there's a slight odor problem here."

    E-mail: streetlevel@nytimes.com

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  3. #63

    Default One Night at the Plaza

    To commemorate the year anniversary of the Plaza Hotel's closing, I've posted an update on what's been going on at the Plaza over the last two years at my blog, www.msmanhattan.net. I had always wanted to stay at the Plaza so, as the hotel entered its final week a year ago, I rushed to spend one night there. It was both magical and sad. My blog entry includes, in addition to the wrap-up on its closing and update on the last year, excerpts from a journal I kept on my brief stay, plus a Q&A I did last year with Curt Gathje, Plaza historian. The articles in this thread were a big help in my research, and I included two links to the thread in my blog. I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who have kept this thread up-to-date for helping keep interest in the Plaza alive. A year later, I still can't fathom that this wonderful historic New York landmark has become just another condo development.

  4. #64

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    Sad, indeed.

    Not just this, but all those other jewels the worthless Landmark Commission has failed to protect...

    Is New York's soul slipping away?

  5. #65
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    My friend, a resounding YES, I'm sorry to say.

  6. #66
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    Buying sight unseen at the Plaza

    Developer Elad Properties shrouds marketing in secrecy; condos at least one-third sold, brokers say


    By Lauren Elkies


    Elizabeth Lorenzo of Stribling & Associates, exclusive sales agent for the Plaza. Condominium units at the storied Plaza Hotel can still be had for a hefty price, but how many of them are unsold remains unclear. So does an actual look at the multimillion-dollar apartments, thanks to a marketing campaign that denies potential buyers a visit to the palatial residential units.

    Instead, would-be buyers view a CD of the famed landmark building at One Central Park South. The short film, featuring a dramatic musical score, is a compendium of promotional material that shows what the refurbished Plaza will look like -- inside and out. The publicity effort includes viewing computerized floor plans of the 182 apartments, which have price tags of up to $39.5 million.

    Brokers of exclusive properties say this approach is perhaps a bit too exclusive, but that doesn't stop folks in the business from talking about the Plaza units.

    "I feel that not disclosing and having this kind of vagueness is going to be counterproductive," and raises more questions, said Louise Phillips Forbes, a senior vice president at Halstead Property. "It's OK to be a little vague," she said, but "people want to feel that they are not the only people pulling the trigger."

    Roger Erickson, senior managing director at Sotheby's International Realty, said he heard from one Stribling & Associates real estate agent that 30 percent of the apartments have signed contracts (no one has closed on a deal yet). Another agent told him 50 percent.

    "What I have heard is that the sales have been going pretty well," said Andrew Gerringer, managing director of the Prudential Douglas Elliman Development Marketing Group, which has represented Plaza owner Elad Properties in other deals. "They're probably at least 50 percent sold," he estimated, with the majority selected on the Central Park side rather than on the Fifth Avenue or courtyard sides.

    "We've sold really well throughout the building," said Elizabeth Lorenzo, a broker specialist with Stribling, the exclusive sales and marketing agent for the private residences at the Plaza. She declined to reveal the number of available apartments, saying that the number is always evolving.

    The one- to five-bedroom condominiums range from 800 to 6,300 square feet and command prices of between $2.2 million and $39.5 million. Three apartments available in early May were apartment 2009, a $39.5 million four-bedroom penthouse triplex; apartment 2001, a four-bedroom duplex with an asking price of $29.5 million; and apartment 913, a two-bedroom apartment for $7.7 million.

    Buyers have hailed from places as disparate as Manhattan's Park and Fifth avenues, Georgia, Boston, California, Russia, Italy and Ireland, Lorenzo said.

    Some potential buyers rejected the Plaza because of the unknowns, brokers said.

    "I feel it's necessary to stand in the place to get a feeling about it," especially when it runs in the multi-million dollar price range, said Cheryl Tanenbaum, a broker for CMT Private Real Estate.

    A senior vice president and managing director of Brown Harris Stevens, Kathleen Sloane, said that while potential buyers appreciate the top-notch hotel services, including a one-touch virtual concierge, the apartments are "very pricey," especially as a pied-a-terre. In addition, she said, "there are a limited number of apartments in the Plaza with superior views."

    Forbes of Halstead said, "I think the community of New Yorkers aren't really sure who their neighbors will be and that's a concern for them." Also, some of her clients were turned off early when they were told they could not choose from the entire inventory because apartments were strategically withheld from the market or they were already taken. "They are particularly wealthy people that would consider buying when they had the pick of the litter," she said.

    Elad purchased the 805-room hotel for $675 million in 2004. The hotel was shuttered April 30 to undergo $350 million in renovations to restore the entire hotel, including the Palm Court and the Oak Bar and Room, to its 1907 grandeur. A two-story penthouse is being added to the 19-story building, and a private center courtyard is being built on the fifth floor. In addition to the private residences, there will be retail space and 282 hotel rooms and suites, 152 of which will be available for purchase for short-term stays while functioning other times as part of the hotel. The restored Plaza is scheduled to partially open in early 2007 with a grand opening in time for the hotel's 100th anniversary that October.

    "The Plaza really speaks to someone -- beside the location -- that loves that building -- that kind of building," said Nellie Wilson, a senior associate broker at the Corcoran Group. The hotel "epitomizes traditional New York," and that appealed to one of her overseas clients, who purchased a pied-a-terre in the Plaza early in the year.

    To some degree, investing millions of dollars for an apartment you have never seen requires an act of faith.

    "You place a certain amount of trust in the developer and the people who are representing the developer," Wilson said.

    The allure of the Plaza is "partially the magic, partially the view, partially the fact it's a condo," said Edward Lee Cave, who owns a high-end boutique firm of the same name. He brokered a deal at the Plaza for a Manhattan couple in April. "You're buying a piece of history," Cave said. The couple settled on a two-bedroom apartment overlooking Central Park. "They said the shoe fits," Cave said, and plunked down the asking price of more than $10 million.

    Copyright © 2003-2005 The Real Deal.

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    A Hotel With 2 Kinds of Condos: Dear, and Dearer Still

    By JAMES BARRON

    Published: July 19, 2006

    The Plaza Hotel’s first guest, not quite 99 years ago, was Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, the stylish grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt. His five-room suite was within summoning distance of another room he paid for, for a servant.

    Mr. Vanderbilt and everyone else who ever stayed at the Plaza — Harrimans and Wanamakers, the Beatles, even parents who promised their youngsters a glimpse of Eloise — did the same thing: they rented. Most paid by the night, though some paid by the year.

    If Vanderbilt were around when the Plaza reopens next year, he would be able to buy a place and settle in. Once the renovations are completed, one side of the Plaza — the south side — will have 11 floors of condominiums with 152 units.

    That means that the Plaza will have two kinds of condominium apartments inside: expensive and more expensive. Also on the south side will be 130 conventional hotel rooms — conventional in the sense that they will be rented by the night. The Plaza’s owner talks of large and luxurious rooms worthy of six-star guidebook ratings.

    The 152 merely expensive hotel condos, on the south side, will have seven-figure prices. Some of the 182 more expensive ones, the ones on the north side of the building facing Central Park, which the Plaza is calling its “private residences,” have eight digits after the dollar sign.

    The less expensive hotel condos will have unobstructed views across 58th Street or — horrors — of the back walls of the buildings next door. The more expensive condos look out on the park and Fifth Avenue.

    The less expensive condos will come with something that is not included in the price of the more expensive ones: furniture.

    The more expensive condos will come with something that is not included in the less expensive ones: a stove. If a hotel condo owner insists on doing his or her own cooking, “the butler will bring in a cooktop,” said Miki Naftali, the president of Elad Properties, which bought the Plaza in 2004 for $675 million.

    Yes, he said, a butler will be stationed on every floor of the hotel condo.

    The people who buy the more expensive apartments on the park side of the building can spend 365 days a year in them, if they wish. Under a deal the Plaza’s developer made with the city last year amid concerns about how many hotel rooms were being converted to condos, the owners of the less expensive condos will be limited to living in theirs for no more than 120 days a year.

    On the other 245 days, they can be rented out, either by the hotel or by the owner, depending on how the owner wants to handle it.


    Of course, less expensive and more expensive are relative terms, especially in the particular level of the real estate stratosphere that is New York, and even the lower prices have a lot of zeroes. The smallest suite in the hotel condo section, at 500 to 600 square feet, will go on sale for $1.6 million; the largest, a duplex penthouse with a terrace on the top floor with 2,100 square feet in all, will carry a price of $9 million.

    There are $9 million apartments on the 58th Street side of the building, too. They have better views but are closer to the street and are slightly smaller than the hotel-condo penthouse. By comparison, there will be a 5,600-square-foot triplex on the park side for $29.5 million.

    Describing the plans, Mr. Naftali referred to the hotel condos as “product,” as in: “The product is perfect for those who’d like to own a piece of the Plaza. They’ll own title to the unit.”

    Mr. Naftali expects the hotel condos to be second or third homes, and the owners will have to give the hotel 90 days’ notice of their arrival. Mr. Naftali said that is far less notice than other hotel condos in this price range require. Some, he said, require owners to book their stays two to three years in advance.

    He also said the Plaza would accommodate last-minute schedule changes, or relatively last minute. “If you call 30 days ahead, you’ll get your unit if it’s available,” he said. If it is not available, the owner will be put up in someone else’s condo.

    Mr. Naftali said that sales people have been calling customers on the waiting list from the more expensive side of the building. He said “more than 60 percent” of those apartments were sold in the seven months since they went on the market.

    “We’re very happy with that,” he said.

    Elizabeth Stribling, whose real estate brokerage firm is marketing the Plaza redevelopment, added, “We’re marching along ahead of schedule here.”

    Without naming names, she also said that the profile of buyers was different from what many people had expected it would be. “So many people thought, ‘The foreigners were coming, the foreigners were coming, the foreigners were coming,’ ” she said. But the largest group of buyers so far are people from the New York area, she said.

    Her agents will sell the hotel condos the way they sold the more expensive condos. At least for now, they cannot show model apartments because they have not been built, so the agents are relying on a computerized virtual tour in the sales office, the space that was once the Edwardian Room. The system shows floor plans on a wide-screen television set, down to the furniture.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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    For those keeping track, that 5,600 square-foot triplex priced at a cool $29.5 million is approximately $5,268 per square foot. Wow.

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    Mh, after watching Home Alone 2, I wanted to stay in (at?) the Plaza for a night...in the 'real', the original Plaza. But no I will never be able to do so.

  10. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by Laharl View Post
    I wanted to stay in (at?) the Plaza for a night...in the 'real', the original Plaza. But no I will never be able to do so.
    Well, there's always the overdone Waldorf...

  11. #71

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    The exterior seems to be losing its patina.

  12. #72

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    ^ You mean they're cleaning it? Or is it just losing that je ne sais quoi?

  13. #73
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    Last time I passed by, the walls were grimy, chipped, and cracked. The sidewalk in front of it was a mess, too. Quite possibly the worst stretch of sidewalk on all of Park Avenue.

  14. #74

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    Oops.

    I meant the Plaza, not the Waldorf.

  15. #75

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    I gathered you meant the Plaza. Are they cleaning the outside?

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