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    Plaza Hotel closing for extreme makeover

    People gather in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York in a photo from Dec. 17.

    associated press file photo
    People gather in front of the Plaza Hotel in New York in a photo from Dec. 17.

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  • Sam Dolnick
    The Associated Press
    January 27, 2005

    NEW YORK - The Plaza Hotel, for 98 years a watering hole and meeting place for kings and queens, presidents and stars, will close by April 30 and be converted into upscale condominiums, stores, and a much smaller hotel.

    The 805-room hotel will reopen late next year with about 150 hotel rooms, 200 condominiums, and multilevel retail space, Miki Naftali, president and chief executive of Elad Properties, said Wednesday.

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

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

    Elad bought the Plaza last summer for $675 million. Naftali declined to say how much the renovations would cost.

    The condos 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 20-foot ceilings; the Palm Court, located in the center 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 his famous Black and White Ball in 1966, will also 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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