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. #976

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    Jake, from 30 Rock this building will be mostly hidden by the Bank of America tower.

  2. #977

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    I'm guessing the design is by Pelli. The design looks a lot like Vornado's initial winning proposal when the plan was to build on top of the post office.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #978
    Forum Veteran Tectonic's Avatar
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    I like the way the above looks.

  4. #979

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derek2k3 View Post
    Jake, from 30 Rock this building will be mostly hidden by the Bank of America tower.
    Thanks, you're right. At least it's some relief for now.

  5. #980

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    From the The New York Observer

    The Penn Is Mightier
    Hotel Pennsylvania inexplicably escapes Vornado’s wrecking ball; landlord even updates its wobbly lobby—keep HOPE alive!


    by Chris Shott | July 22, 2008 |
    This article was published in the July 28, 2008, edition of The New York Observer.



    Getty Images
    The Hotel Pennsylvania on Seventh Avenue and
    33rd Street.


    “The air-conditioners are so old and beat up, I figure why waste electrical power during an energy crunch when I can just take off all my clothes and work nude?” quipped Mr. Biafra, the 50-year-old former lead singer of the irreverent Reagan-era rock band the Dead Kennedys and a onetime fringe presidential candidate. “I come from cold, foggy San Francisco, so I like it when the heat is sweltering. It’s a nice treat to work nude.”

    He was staying at the historic Hotel Pennsylvania, a veritable musical landmark befitting the songwriter responsible for the satirical travel anthem “Holiday in Cambodia.”

    Speaking to The Observer in the hallway outside the hotel’s 18th-floor ballroom this past Sunday night, Mr. Biafra stood just steps away from a framed copy of the sheet music to “Pennsylvania 6-5000,” the Glenn Miller Orchestra’s ode to the once glorious hotel, built in 1919, and its long-standing phone number.

    “It’s definitely a tired old hotel that hasn’t really been fixed in a long time,” said Mr. Biafra, in town for a speaking engagement.

    Earlier that afternoon, he delivered a fiery two-hour sermon to the biennial gathering at the hotel of computer geeks, conspiracy buffs and ex-convicts, known as HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth).

    Mr. Biafra is a regular guest of the conference, which this year included seminars on such cloak-and-dagger topics as safe cracking and lock picking, as well as how to turn a $50 popcorn machine into a high-tech $400 “herbal vaporizer.”

    “They’ve had me five times in a row even though I don’t know how to use a computer,” joked Mr. Biafra, who openly encouraged attendees to tinker with touch-screen voting machines during the upcoming November elections, among other acts of civil disobedience and cyber-sabotage, but warned the crowd to always be wary of Big Brother: “… and those big porcelain balls you find on top of the TV sets in this hotel! What are they for?”

    Other speakers included high-tech security consultant Kevin Mitnick, who spent five years in prison for illegally hacking into the computer systems of various corporations; and private investigator Steven Rambam, who during the previous hacker conference, two years ago, was arrested before even reaching the podium, on charges (which were later dropped) of interfering in a federal investigation. This year, Mr. Rambam went on for a full three hours.

    The crowd of nearly 3,000 attendees—a group largely characterized by their pasty complexions, laptops and T-shirts emblazoned with techie slogans, including “Talk Nerdy To Me,” “No, I Will Not Fix Your Computer” and “Keep Out of Direct Sunlight”—seemed right at home in the long-neglected lodge on Seventh Avenue.

    “I literally live in a barn, so my standards are a bit different,” said Douglas Spink, another guest speaker and former dot-com tycoon who turned to drug smuggling when the Internet bubble burst; later went to prison; and now trains horses in Washington State (his prize stallion currently being the victim of a highly publicized horse-napping). “I’m just happy to have running water.”

    The hackers have been coming to the Hotel Pennsylvania every two years or so since 1994—a streak that, until recently, seemed very much in jeopardy.



    A LITTLE OVER a year ago, organizers learned that landlord Vornado Realty Trust, which acquired the hotel in 1997, was planning to demolish the ancient McKim, Mead & White-designed building and replace it with a soaring office tower.

    Some HOPE participants took the news personally: “There is nothing more frightening to any government, to any corporate board room, than the knowledge that thousands of hackers in a single location may be focusing their attention in the same direction at the same instant,” according to programs passed out at the conference. “A plan was thus devised by the agents of Vornado to strike down the gathering point of the hackers, to have them forever wander in search of a home, and to be in a perpetually weakened state.”

    One Manhattan-based technofile even spearheaded a campaign to have the old hotel designated as a city landmark, thus blocking the wrecking ball. Gregory Jones, a resident of nearby 30th Street, spent months lobbying elected officials, community leaders and the media, to little effect. The effort eventually earned the endorsement of the local community board, whose members even launched into a sing-along of the old Glenn Miller tune prior to voting—but ultimately failed to sway the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, which twice rejected the proposal.

    And so the hackers returned to their precious hotel on July 18 for what had been dubbed “The Last HOPE.”

    “I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to more developers to remodel an historic or an old building rather than just put up some boring new monstrosity,” said Mr. Biafra as a group of hackers carried a symbolic coffin into the conference room during the event’s closing ceremonies. “It costs them less money to do it. And you’ve got all kinds of people—even if this got turned into condos!—who want to move into an old, cool, revamped building. Or, you revive the hotel, fix it up a little bit. Or, you could do a combination of all of the above, and it would be a much more vibrant community than another generic office tower.

    “I mean, there have been very successful versions of this done with various train stations and old office buildings—even meatpacking plants—and people want to live there,” Mr. Biafra continued. “Part of the old Heinz ketchup factory in Pittsburgh has been turned into living space now, and the line to move into one of those lofts is out the door. They are way too expensive for me or any of my friends. But the point is, you find something cool to do with an old building that may actually be better in the long run—even for the developer.

    “It’s just a matter of whether you have any taste,” he added, “or any soul.”

    Or tenant, as it turns out.



    ACTUALLY, IT HAS occurred to the developer to rethink the whole demolition thing: Just last month, in fact, Vornado CEO Steven Roth announced during a conference call with investors that he might just hang onto the old hotel after all.

    “First off, it is doing damn well as a hotel,” said Mr. Roth, noting the hotel’s increased occupancy, up from 63.7 percent nightly on average in 2003 to 84.4 percent in 2007, as well as increased revenues.

    Last year alone, the hotel brought in nearly $38 million—some $10 million more than in 2006, according to the company’s latest annual report. More recent figures point to $5.4 million in pretax earnings during the first three months of 2008—up from $3.6 million over the same period last year.

    The numbers, among other financial realities, have clearly swayed Mr. Roth. “We have two basic grand strategies with this grand asset,” he said. “One is, leave it as a hotel, renovate it as a hotel, increase the income coming out of the hotel; and you introduce a very substantial amount of retail in the base of that building—probably three floors’ worth, and connect it into the Manhattan Mall, so we have an extraordinarily interesting asset.”

    The “other opportunity,” as Mr. Roth put it, would have Vornado stick to its guns, raze the building and build a huge tower—“if we can land a major tenant,” he added.

    A big if.

    It was no secret that Mr. Roth had been wooing financial giant Merrill Lynch to relocate from Lower Manhattan to the hotel site with promises of building a new company headquarters spanning 2 million square feet, complete with a 80,000-square-foot trading floor.

    Ultimately, however, the deal fell through. “The credit crisis and Merrill’s management changes disrupted this deal,” according to Vornado documents.

    The developer’s abrupt about-face seemed a sweet, albeit indirect, victory for “Save the Hotel” campaigner Mr. Jones, who had grown so frustrated by his fellow hackers’ reluctance to do much of anything beyond blogging about the issue that he ultimately abandoned the HOPE convention altogether.

    “The economy accomplished it for us,” Mr. Jones said on Monday. “Thank you, George Bush!”

    Late Sunday night, conference organizer Emmanuel Goldstein felt comfortable enough to announce tentative plans for the next HOPE event at the Hotel Penn in 2010.

    In the meantime, participants hoped Vornado would make good on its makeover proposal. And, in fact, in recent months, the hotel has added some new touches to the lobby, including additional couches and a series of flat-screen TVs above the front desk.

    But there is still much to be done.

    “I do think they could afford to update the hotel to the point of having coffee in the rooms,” said Mr. Biafra in a sort of off-the-cuff oblique homage to his 1987 album, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death.

    “It’s one of those things that nobody did 10 years ago,” he said of the in-room coffee makers, now an industry standard. “But now that we have it, we can’t live without it.”

    cshott@observer.com

  6. #981

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    ^ Restore it to an elegance beyond what it ever enjoyed. There's a need for a big hotel in this area --especially with train travel's resurgence.

  7. #982
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    “I don’t know why it doesn’t occur to more developers to remodel an historic or an old building rather than just put up some boring new monstrosity,” said Mr. Biafra as a group of hackers carried a symbolic coffin into the conference room during the event’s closing ceremonies. “It costs them less money to do it. And you’ve got all kinds of people—even if this got turned into condos!—who want to move into an old, cool, revamped building. Or, you revive the hotel, fix it up a little bit. Or, you could do a combination of all of the above, and it would be a much more vibrant community than another generic office tower.

    “I mean, there have been very successful versions of this done with various train stations and old office buildings—even meatpacking plants—and people want to live there,” Mr. Biafra continued. “Part of the old Heinz ketchup factory in Pittsburgh has been turned into living space now, and the line to move into one of those lofts is out the door. They are way too expensive for me or any of my friends. But the point is, you find something cool to do with an old building that may actually be better in the long run—even for the developer.

    “It’s just a matter of whether you have any taste,” he added, “or any soul.”
    Vornado and other philistine NY developers could learn a thing or two from Mr. Biafra.

  8. #983

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    What a difference a down-turn in the market makes.

    Curb.com reports about the snazzy new Hotel Pennsylvania web-site. They are now billing the place as "The World's Most Popular Hotel®" ... not bad for a lice infected dump

    www.HotelPenn.com

    BTW: for those not familiar with it, the background music used on the web-site, is the song "New York, New York" from the movie by the same name.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theme_f...rk%2C_New_York

    ---
    Last edited by Fabrizio; August 14th, 2008 at 07:37 AM.

  9. #984
    Kings County Loyal BrooklynLove's Avatar
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    One word: rats.

  10. #985

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    Wavering Vornado Still Pondering Hotel Penn Takedown

    by Eliot Brown | August 21, 2008

    VNO
    Goodbye Hotel Pennsylvania?

    Vornado Realty Trust isn't hell-bent on demolishing the historic Hotel Pennsylvania, anymore -- but it's putting the paperwork in place, just in case.

    Vornado recently applied for a Certification of No Harassment from the city, which, if granted, would by no means guarantee demolition but is apparently a prerequisite for tearing down the semi-grungy hotel across from Penn Station.

    Vornado, which owns that site and many others in the area, hasn't made up its mind on what to do with the hotel (at least not publicly), and last word was that the company would do one of three things: put a giant office tower in its place, put a smaller office tower in its place with large retail, or simply spruce up the hotel.

    Back last fall, the company was painfully close to landing Merrill Lynch as an anchor tenant in a planned giant skyscraper at the site. Chairman Steve Roth has bemoaned that he had a handshake deal with Merrill CEO Stan O'Neal, who was forced out shortly thereafter. Merrill then dropped those plans amid major fiscal woes.

    The no-harrassment application was filed with the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development on July 25, according to the agency's web site.

    http://www.observer.com/2008/real-es...ard-demolition

    © 2008 Observer Media Group,

  11. #986

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    The small tower plus retail would be horrible. If it has to be torn down at least do it with something huge.

  12. #987

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    Hopefully that's what we will see. The area needs to be spruced up.

  13. #988

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    The hotel should be preserved and the blight on the block above needs redevelopent on the scale planned at hotel penn.

  14. #989

    Default Hotel Penn is part of the solution, not the problem

    I'd have to take issue with any claims that the Hotel Penn needs to be taken down to "spruce up" the area. The area, while not really terrible, could certainly use a shot in the arm. But is the Hotel Penn the troublemaker? I'd say no. I've never stayed inside it, so I can't speak from experience either about the beautiful old interiors/lobby or about the latter-day disgusting rooms, roaches and carpeting. But the building is a solid, handsome structure and, along with the Roosevelt Hotel, a remnant of a time when hotels that looked like the two of them were built all around the city's transport hubs (with the Roosevelt and departed Commodore at Grand Central).

    Fixing up the Hotel Penn would be a winner for the area and for Vornado. What should be knocked down are other buildings in the area, first and foremost MSG itself and its rat-trap basement, the nation's busiest train station.

    But that's just a start. What about the nasty old parking garages and lots on W30, W31? The POS single-story disasters that house Friday's and the weirdest McDonald's I've ever been in (thanks to the odd and inexplicable butcher-style wash basins in the front of it) at 8th and 34th? 34th between 7th and 8th, with a half-block of similar single-story fast-food joints and shoe shops?

    Or, perhaps most egregiously of all, the area right across 33rd from the Hotel Penn at the corner of 7th and 33rd? It's a prominent corner taken up entirely by garbage one-story North Fork, BoA and FootAction strip malls one one side of 7th and one-story fast food on the other side of 7th.

    This area does need help. But the Hotel Penn is one of the stateliest buildings in the area. Think of the benefits of a grand hotel with its ornate, restored lobby and rooms that aren't covered in natty carpeting and 1950s cheap chic. That would be a spur to development of the myriad junk buildings in the area. The Hotel Penn is part of the solution, and the problem comes from almost everything else around it.

  15. #990

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stroika View Post
    The Hotel Penn is part of the solution, and the problem comes from almost everything else around it.
    I agree with this opinion whole heartedly. It would be best to Gentrify this hotel and knock down all the other garbage around it. Spruced up old hotels really make a city look much more grand in appearance. I don't even want to think of the Roosevelt being torn down.

    It is just easier for a developer to buy a hotel and tear it down versus other buildings because there are no leases involved. This is why the Macklowes appear to tear down the Drake, etc. Look at all the *#!@ that Columbia is getting for wanting to tear down some worn down one story buildings in Manhattanville. Those guys have leases.

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