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Press Association
Thu 27 Jan 2005
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3:28am (UK)
End of An Era at the Plaza

"PA"

New York’s Plaza Hotel – for 98 years a watering hole and meeting place for kings and queens, presidents and stars – will close this spring to become luxury flats, shops and and a much smaller guest house.

The 805-room hotel would close before the end of April and reopen late next year with about 150 hotel rooms, 200 flats and multi-level shopping mall, Miki Naftali, president and chief executive of Elad Properties, said.

The 19-storey Plaza, which sits at the southeast corner of Central Park in Manhattan, was described as the greatest hotel in the world when it opened on October 1, 1907.

The staid, French Renaissance-design building was the site of famous movie scenes in North by Northwest, The Great Gatsby, The Way We Were and “Home Alone II. Film stars Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones were married there in 2000.

Elad bought the Plaza last summer for 675 million dollars (£377m). Naftali declined to say how much the renovations would cost.

The flats will be built on the top 12 floors, as well as some of the lower floors facing Central Park, Naftali said. The hotel rooms will line 58th Street.

The Plaza’s most famous restaurants will remain largely unchanged and will reopen in 2006, although they will be operated separately from the hotel and could have new names and menus.

The restaurants include the Oak Room and the Oak Bar, which boast dark oak walls and 6metre (20-foot) ceilings; the Palm Court, located in the centre of the hotel; and the former Edwardian Room, which was renamed One C.P.S. and closed at the end of 2004. The Oyster Bar will be converted into retail space, Naftali said.

The main ballroom, where Truman Capote held a Black and White Ball in 1966, will remain unchanged.

“The fame is still here and we’d like to upgrade and to refresh the property and position it again as the best hotel in the city,” he said.

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