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 BUSINESS

Checkout Time At The Plaza
Once The Ultimate Lodging, Historic Manhattan Hotel Going Condo

January 27, 2005
Associated Press, And Staff Reports

NEW YORK -- The Plaza Hotel, for 98 years a meeting place for kings and queens, presidents and celebrities, 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. Elad bought the Plaza last summer for $675 million.

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 hotel once was home to Vanderbilts and Astors. Ernest Hemingway once counseled F. Scott Fitzgerald that he should leave his liver to Princeton and his heart to The Plaza.

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.

The conversion of hotels to condominiums, co-ops or timeshares is a growing trend in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.

Conversions in New York are driven by strong demand for housing, even though hotel business is booming. According to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, six of 11 hotel sales in Manhattan in 2004 involved buyers that plan to convert at least part of the buildings to residential use.

The Plaza 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. Naftali declined to say how much the renovations would cost.

Plans call for the condos to be of modest size by Manhattan luxury standards; the largest will be about 3,500 feet.

Dottie Herman, CEO of Prudential Douglas Elliman, told the New York Post she expected the condos would sell for $2,500-$3,000 per square foot. That would put the price tag on a 2,000-square-foot unit at $5 million-$6 million, while a 3,500-square-foot condo would go for $8.75-$10.5 million.

A typical Plaza room is about 500 square feet.

But at $3,000 a night - at least through April - guests can cavort through the 2,700-square-foot Astor Suite's three bedrooms, living room and dining room that seats 10. It has views of Central Park.

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.

They 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 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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Plaza Hotel
Plaza Hotel
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)



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