View Poll Results: Hotel Pennsylvania should be replaced with the proposed office building

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  • Yes

    76 44.97%
  • No

    93 55.03%
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Thread: Hotel Pennsylvania - by McKim Mead & White - to be replaced by 15 Penn Plaza

  1. #826
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    The Grand Hyatt may still inhabit the same skin and bones,
    same bones, different skin.

  2. #827
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Vornado has successfully masked the fact that the hotel is viable property as it stands now. On that basis, it ranks more favorably than the situation that existed across the street 45 years ago. The Pennsylvania Railroad was losing money, and no one wanted to bear the expense of renovating Penn Station.
    What do you mean it has successfully "masked" the property's viability? We both know that they make a profit from it, and we both know that the underlying land and air rights have the potential to make it very profitable. If you're referring to the fact that the Post and other newspapers repeatedly put it down as a "dump," then perhaps they've been bribed, but I doubt it. They're Real Estate reporters, not architecture critics.

    The hotel has a reputation as a dump, yet Vornado realizes $30 million in profit from its operations. It's right across the street from a major transportation hub, in a neighborhood that will experience major growth. Renovating the building as a hotel would be a sound investment, and not require any exterior recladding - just some "soap and water."
    I think it's too soon to say. Why was the Commodore reclad? It too was located next to a major transportation hub, and its neighborhood had a better pedigree.

    The only problem the hotel has is unchecked greed. It's probably true that Vornado can realize more profit by razing and developing the site, but it's not like they'd be asked to hold on to a white elephant.
    Well, you're probably right. But in the end, Vornado is a publicly held company with a market cap of $12B. Choosing to keep the hotel would result in substantial unrealized gains, unless they were able to transfer the air rights. They pay taxes on the gains either way, so if you're a shareholder, you're wondering why Vornado is content with $30M a year in cash flow from an old hotel, when it can get probably over $100M from a 2.5M sq. ft. office tower.

    I'm not a shareholder, and it really doesn't matter it to me what happens. But I suspect they'll do what's best for the shareholders, and not what's best for the architectural legacy of New York.

    Quote Originally Posted by MidtownGuy View Post
    same bones, different skin.
    ^Right. My bad.

  3. #828

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    What do you mean it has successfully "masked" the property's viability? We both know that they make a profit from it, and we both know that the underlying land and air rights have the potential to make it very profitable.
    Is that the general opinion?

    Check some comments in this thread, and visit other forums. I see very few comments that the hotel's condition is the owner's fault; the building itself seems to get the blame. Once that's established, it's easy to reason that the owner has the right to tear it down.

    I don't see the relevance with the Commodore; different era, the entire city was in decline.

    The Pennsylvania Hotel makes money now; it's a cash cow. Look at it a different way. If the site was vacant, would it be a good investment to build a hotel.

  4. #829
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fabrizio View Post
    That the Hotel Penn is a dump means nothing.

    Zero. Zilch. Niente.

    "Good riddance" to it, because the place is run-down, is cultural poverty.

    --

    Below is a link to the Book-Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, (re-opening next year). Click around:

    http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin..._section_2Link

    Now this is the Book-Cadillac before restoration. Underwhelming to be sure. A dump do say the least:

    http://www.forgottendetroit.com/caddy/photos.html

    ----

    Here is the Book-Cadillac Hotel ballroom. After/Before:




    ------------------------

    Is restoration and preservation really so high-concept? So hard to grasp ?

    [/b]
    yes!

    good call as the book-cadillac is a nice example.

    somebody ring up the ferchill group in cleveland who are doing that work.

    ferchill could certainly do it to the penn too, they are the experts in this kind of major bombastic reno work.

  5. #830

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Vornado has successfully masked the fact that the hotel is viable property as it stands now. On that basis, it ranks more favorably than the situation that existed across the street 45 years ago. The Pennsylvania Railroad was losing money, and no one wanted to bear the expense of renovating Penn Station.

    The hotel has a reputation as a dump, yet Vornado realizes $30 million in profit from its operations. It's right across the street from a major transportation hub, in a neighborhood that will experience major growth. Renovating the building as a hotel would be a sound investment, and not require any exterior recladding - just some "soap and water."

    The only problem the hotel has is unchecked greed. It's probably true that Vornado can realize more profit by razing and developing the site, but it's not like they'd be asked to hold on to a white elephant.
    The fact that so much is going to be built close to this hotel all the way to the West Side HWY -means that this area is becoming very very desirable for the future luxury condominimums and apartments. So in my mind to restore and made it into one of these restored old grandeur hotels_turned_condominimums - is a viable option. It is not considered because Vornado sees more profit in building a big box skyscraper there - obviously without anything interesting in architecture besides the height. This is the main reason for the whole thing.
    It should be landmarked and restored to the grandeur of it's older days. West side is becoming a new East Side very quickly - it will pay for itself in the future.

  6. #831
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Is that the general opinion?

    Check some comments in this thread, and visit other forums. I see very few comments that the hotel's condition is the owner's fault; the building itself seems to get the blame. Once that's established, it's easy to reason that the owner has the right to tear it down.
    Is it the owner's fault? Vornado didn't acquire its first stake in the hotel until 1997, and didn't acquire full ownership until 1999. At best, Vornado has owned the hotel for about 10% of its existence.

    I don't see the relevance with the Commodore; different era, the entire city was in decline.
    Just an example. I couldn't think of another contemporaneous case involving a hotel, but there are plenty of similarly-sized office buildings that have met the Commodore's fate.

    The Pennsylvania Hotel makes money now; it's a cash cow. Look at it a different way. If the site was vacant, would it be a good investment to build a hotel.
    Probably, but I doubt the hotel would look anything like the Hotel Penn.

  7. #832

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    Is it the owner's fault?
    Who else? They've owned it for 8 years.

    Probably, but I doubt the hotel would look anything like the Hotel Penn.
    Just establishing the economic viability of a hotel at W33rd and 7th Ave.

    What it all comes down to is economics.

    A good example might be 2CC. The building was not going to be designated a landmark because the city owned the vacant building and couldn't find an adaptive reuse for it, until a buyer came along.

    If the Museum of Whatever had said,"We'll take the building as is and just gut the interior," it would have been designated, and everyone would be happy.

    The Pennsylvania Hotel doesn't need an adaptive reuse.

  8. #833

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    The fact that Detroit's Book Cadillac Hotel is being cited as a template for the site is hilarious. I grew up in Detroit and know the site well. The Book Cadillac is a giant subsidized project that makes no economic sense whatsoever. Besides the innanity of comparing New York real estate to Detroit real estate, the fact that the Book Cadillac saga would be cited as a "model" shows you just how out of touch some people are on real estate uses and market values.

    Over $100 million in public subsidies are being wasted in Detroit. The resulting condo/hotel project is being built in a city that already has a glut of both uses. The hotel portion will be a disaster, and despite huge subsidies, they barely sold any condos over the past year.

    People are also missing the point that just because something is possible does not mean it is desirable. Of course it is possible that the site could remain a dumpy hotel. It is true that all development sites could remain in their curent uses. That doesn't mean it is desirable to freeze the city in time, preserving the crap along with the beauties. If you want the city to have a robust budget for schools, subways, etc. you need to grow the commercial tax base.

    It will be a great day in New York when Vornado tears down this wreck and puts up something up befitting its "center of the world" location. The NIMBYs and some forumers will complain, but that's expected.

  9. #834

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Vornado has successfully masked the fact that the hotel is viable property as it stands now.
    A parking lot or a gas station is almost always a viable property (viable in that revenues will more than pay for carrying costs, since land values are generally set at existing, rather than potential uses). That doesn't mean it is desirable to maintain a property in its existing use just because it isn't a cash flow burden.

    In the big picture, it is in the city's interest to maximize revenues through full utilization of air rights, with obvious exceptions for certain sites. This hotel is not architecturally significant, and has been a development site for many, many years. Vornado bought the site with the intent to redevelop.

  10. #835

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    Does anyone else think that the above description is what I meant by viable?

    You can always count on ASchwarz for some pointless hyperbole.

    As has been stated over and over, it is common practice to transfer air-rights on landnmarked property.

    Vornado bought the site with the intent to redevelop
    Psst. That's my argument.

  11. #836

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    And you can always count on his lack of reading and comprehension skills:

    The Book Cadillac is mentioned only to show the possibilities of restoration. (Follow the thread. Read the post.)

    I guess I could also show the restoration of the LaFenice Theatre in Venice after the fire, and he'd assume I'm comparing real estate in Italy to New York. Geeeeez.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/4006025.stm

    ----

    As for his continual disparaging of posters here:

    "The NIMBYs and some forumers will complain, but that's expected."

    HIS only negative comments about developers are reserved for Washington, Miami and Dubai.

    Strange.


    ---
    Last edited by Fabrizio; January 5th, 2008 at 06:46 AM.

  12. #837
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Who else? They've owned it for 8 years.
    That's precisely my point. You're seemingly putting all the blame on Vornado for perpetrating, and perpetuating, the "myth" that the hotel is a dump, and beyond restoration. What of all its previous owners? A hotel operating for 80 years doesn't suddenly become a dump in 8, especially when it's just finishing up a modest renovation.

    What it all comes down to is economics.
    Precisely. And I think that's why (if you acknowledge it), you can't make a compelling case for the hotel to be left largely intact.

  13. #838

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    That's precisely my point. You're seemingly putting all the blame on Vornado for perpetrating, and perpetuating, the "myth" that the hotel is a dump, and beyond restoration. What of all its previous owners?
    I only mentioned Vornado because it is the present owner, and involved in the fate of the hotel. I wasn't trying to single Vornado out as the worst owner of the hotel, but establishing that the dumpy condition of the hotel is not because of some flaw in the building or its location, or lack of revenue.

  14. #839

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    Quote Originally Posted by pianoman11686 View Post
    Precisely. And I think that's why (if you acknowledge it), you can't make a compelling case for the hotel to be left largely intact.
    The same argument was more effectively made for Penn Station being demolished.

    If the criteria is that the highest return wins, then everything should come down.

  15. #840
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    I only mentioned Vornado because it is the present owner, and involved in the fate of the hotel. I wasn't trying to single Vornado out as the worst owner of the hotel, but establishing that the dumpy condition of the hotel is not because of some flaw in the building or its location, or lack of revenue.
    Well, I just felt that you were singling them out.

    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    The same argument was more effectively made for Penn Station being demolished.
    I strongly disagree. Penn Station provided a valuable public benefit, as a transportation hub. There are unique implications in that, as far as municipal and federal spending is concerned. On the other hand, no one is using the Hotel Penn as a public good.

    If the criteria is that the highest return wins, then everything should come down.
    I vigorously contest that kind of statement.

    I've come to terms with the fact that there is a place for a Landmarks commission. And I think that, for the most part, they've done an admirable job of identifying the buildings most worthy of preservation. And they've had - what - 40+ years to landmark this hotel? Look where they started out: right across the street. Now, all of a sudden, after all that time, preservationists want the Hotel Penn landmarked so it can't be demolished?

    I can't think of another explanation besides the recently-discovered prospect of Vornado profiting handsomely from doing so. I've refrained from saying it earlier in this thread, because I thought I could argue against preservation other ways. So I'll say it now: if the Hotel Penn is landmarked and Vornado is not allowed to go forward with their plan, the city of New York should bear the burden of compensating them for the lost value of the land. If not, it would constitute an unjust taking of property, and I would not be surprised at all if Vornado sued, and won in court.

    I'd prefer not to see such a situation come about.

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