The Plaza

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768 Fifth Avenue, New York City, NY

The Plaza
Theplazanyc.jpg

The Plaza as seen from Fifth Avenue
Building Information
Developer U.S. Realty & Construction Co.
Architect Henry Hardenbergh
Management Company Fairmont
Number of Units 181
Number of Floors 20
Year Built 1907
Construction Method Concrete
Type of Roof Tile
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768 Fifth Avenue, New York City, NY
Distance to Public Transit Less than One block
Region New York City
Municipality New York City
Zoning R-10H
Title of Land Condominium


Contents

Background

The Plaza on Fifth Avenue is arguably one of the most recognizable and famous condominium buildings in the world. An almost even mix of private residences and hotel suites, The Plaza is of vital historical importance to New York City and to popular culture in general. Ownership of private suites only began in 2008 but since then, the 181 owners of suites at The Plaza can rightfully lay claim to owning one of the rarest and most valuable condominium suites in the world.

The Plaza's elegant lobby

The hotel's main entrance faces the southern portion of Grand Army Plaza from which it derives its name. The current day Plaza is the second hotel of that name on the site. The French Renaissance château-style building was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and opened in 1907. The Plaza is listed on the Register of Historic Places and is designated as a National Historic Landmark. The Plaza had already been designated a New York City Landmark in 1969.

Through its existence, numerous famous individuals and companies have owned The Plaza. In 1943, Conrad Hilton bought The Plaza for $7.4 million (about $99.4 million in 2012). The Childs Company, a national restaurant chain, purchased the property in 1955 for a 2012 equivalent of $54.9 million. The Childs Company is known today as "Sonesta International Hotels Corporation". The hotel was then purchased by Donald Trump in 1988 for a modern equivalent of $800 million.

After Trump's divorce from Ivana Trump, he sold the hotel for a massive loss in 1995, to Troy Richard Campbell, for a 2012 equivalent of $496 million. Campbell in turn, then sold it for the modern equivalent of $831 million in 2005 to "El Ad Properties". El Ad closed The Plaza for almost two years to complete its extensive renovation and conversion to hotel and private residences that we see today.[1]

Most recently (July 2012), a business group from India, "Sahara India Pariwar", agreed to buy a 75% stake in the hotel from El Ad for $570 million.



Location

The Plaza sits on the Southern border of Central Park on the West side of Grand Army Plaza in the borough of Manhattan. Central Park South can be identified as one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world, and contains The Plaza, Residences at the Ritz Carlton, Park Lane and Jumeirah Essex House luxury hotels. This places The Plaza conveniently at the center of some of New York City`s most iconic areas.

The shopping mecca of Fifth Avenue, the advertising heart of Madison Avenue, and internationally acclaimed, Carnegie Hall are all just a short stroll away. The Theater District and Times Square, a little further, but then residents of The Plaza can use the Rolls-Royce Limousine Service provided by the hotel.

Apart from services and amenities within the hotel which are available to residents, numerous other restaurant choices are presented in the neighboring area, both high end elegant dining and more simple fare, all within a few hundred feet of The Plaza. Independent and franchised coffee locations are close at hand. For those evenings where staying in is important, groceries are readily accessible with choices ranging from specialty meats to gourmet and organic shops.

Central Park, perhaps one of the best known urban parks in the world, is at the doorstep. Around the corner along Fifth Avenue lies the "Museum Mile" offering some of the most famous and interesting displays in one small area. Schools, however, are a little more distant with PS 59, the Beekman Hill International School, just over half a mile away. Public transit offers about 70 bus and rail options close by and the area is considered very bike-able especially with Central Park right across the street.[2]

Construction

Before The Plaza existed in its current incarnation, another Plaza Hotel of the same name existed at the same site. This original Plaza Hotel was just a seven story building, constructed in 1890. The building was generally unpopular with New Yorkers and moreover, was simply too small at seven stories to turn a profit, and by 1902 it shut its doors.

Harry Black, President of the U.S. Realty and Construction Company, was interested in acquiring the land for its location, and was ultimately persuaded to do so at the cost of $3-million by his friend and financier, Bernhard Beinecke. Additional financial support came from John W. Gates. In addition to offering financial investment, Gates had a relationship to Fred Sterry, then managing director of the United States Hotel in Saratoga Springs, New York. Gates eventually persuaded Sterry to take on the directorship of The Plaza in time for its opening on October 1st, 1907.

Henry Hardenbergh, who was already well known for designing the Waldorf Hotel as well as Central Park West's Dakota building, was selected as the project's architect. Hardenbergh's vision was a 19th and 20th-century revival French Renaissance style of architecture partially inspired by London's Carlton and Savoy hotels.

When construction concluded, it cost $12.5-million to build the new Plaza Hotel - an amount roughly equivalent to $300-million today.

In 1921, The Plaza added the West addition, designed by fabled New York architects Warren & Wetmore, famous for designing New York City's Grand Central Terminal.

The Plaza underwent its first major renovation in 1943 when purchased by hotel baron Conrad Hilton. Hilton purchased the property for $7.4-million and spent an additional $6-million on the refurbishment. Hilton's total cost for the purchase and refurbishment would represent approximately $180-million in today's dollars.


Centennial Renovation

  • In need of repair, plans for restoration work on The Plaza began in 2002.
  • Restoration architect Walter Melvin brought in to plan the remedial work.
  • The Plaza was purchased by El Ad Properties, an Israel-based company, in 2004 for $675 million.
  • El Ad brought in the Tishman Construction Corporation in to oversee its plan to refurbish the property and add condominiums as well as underground retail space to the property.
  • The architectural firm of Costas Kondylis & Partners LLP designed the conversion of suites to condominiums.
  • Interior design work was done by Gal Nauer.
  • $450 million would be spent over the next five years before the renovation was completed.
  • El Ad reopened the hotel in March of 2008 and began selling the condominiums.
  • To date, the highest price paid for a condominium at The Plaza was $50 million in 2007.


Layout and Features

The permanent residences at The Plaza are all located on the North and the East sides of the building, ranging in size from 782 to 5,613 square feet. Current owners are said to include top executives from Staples, Jet Blue and a number of Russian businessmen.

The other option for would-be owners is to purchase a hotel suite condominium at The Plaza as a pied-a-terre, which allows the owner use of the suite for up to 120 days a year and the opportunity to earn rental income by allowing the hotel to rent the suite for the owner. There are 152 of these such suites at The Plaza.

The Plaza offers five types of rooms as pied-a-terre residences:

  • The Palm Suite (500 to 600 square feet)
  • The Rose Suite (600 to 800 square feet)
  • The Edwardian Suite (900 to 1,000 square feet)
  • The Plaza Suite (1,500 square feet)
  • The Terrace Suites, which range from 1,300 to 2,100 square feet.

Ownership of these suites allow the owner to occupy the suite for up to 120 days of the year, which can be either as one long stay or broken up into a number of shorter stays throughout the calendar year. When the owner is not occupying the suite, they receive 95% of the income the suite generates from the hotel's rental pool, less a 5% management fee levied by the hotel's management chain, Fairmont Hotels.[3]

These suites are in addition to the 130 hotel rooms owned exclusively by the hotel for the use of guests.


Floor Plans

Nearly 120 floor plans exist for The Plaza. Here are a few variations:[4]

Amenities

Entry to the residences at The Plaza is through a private entrance for residences only located at 1 Central Park South, whereas hotel guests enter through the main lobby on 58th Street.

Each residence at The Plaza features a one-touch display panel called "Concierge Direct" which allows residents to choose any of The Plaza's services or to call for security.

The Plaza boasts extensive personal services for residents and guests alike, including a full time doorman, 24 hour concierge and a butler on every floor. Housekeeping is provided twice a day and bell staff, dry cleaning, laundry, fresh flower service and catering are all available on demand. Residents may also have use of The Plaza's Rolls Royce service.

The Plaza features the Caudalie Spa which offers a number of wet body and dry body treatments in addition to facials, manicures, pedicures, and waxing. Also featured is the Warren-Tricomi Salon which offers hair styling services.

The Plaza fitness area includes a full gymnasium and fitness spa.

A number of restaurants and bars are available within The Plaza, many of legendary reputation, such as the Palm Court. Also included are the Champagne Bar, the Rose Club, the Oak Room, and the Plaza Food Hall.[5]

Bylaws

The Plaza Bylaws
Rentals Yes
Pets No
Age No


  • Owners of pied-a-terre suites at The Plaza are entitled to stay for up to 120 days per year.
  • The 120 days can be used at one time, or divided up throughout the calendar year.[6]


Sustainability

In March of 2011, "FirstService Corporation" (TSX: FSV; FSV.PR.U; and NASDAQ: FSVR) announced the launch of an energy management company called FS Energy, LLC, with a mandate to lead environmental change by improving energy efficiency and lowering operating costs across "FirstService Corporation's" management portfolio. Initially, FS Energy will focus on the 450 high rise buildings that it operates in New York City. The Plaza is among the properties that FS Energy oversees.

When the private condominium residences at The Plaza were completed in 2007, Con Edison stipulated a $379,000 electricity security deposit. Management of the hotel brought in FS Energy to help to reduce or eliminate the deposit.

With the introduction of an "Energy Service Company", of ESCO, The Plaza reduced power demand charges by approximately $200,000 and energy costs by an additional $324,000, for $524,000 total savings over the two-year agreement they signed with FS Energy. The initial goal of waiving the $379,000 security deposit was also achieved.[7]


Trivia

  • The very first guests to check into The Plaza were Alfred and Ellen Vanderbilt on October 1st, 1907. Starting price for a room was $2.50 a night. In 2012, the starting price at The Plaza is $625 per night.
  • The Plaza was purchased by Donald Trump in 1988 for $407.5-million. Trump sold the property in 1995 for $325-million.
  • The Plaza has been used in a number of feature films including; Eloise, North By Northwest, Barefoot in the Park, Funny Girl, Plaza Suite, The Way We Were, Love at First Bite, Arthur, They All Laughed, The Cotton Club, Brewster's Millions, Crocodile Dundee, Big Business, Crocodile Dundee II, King of New York, Scent of a Woman, Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, Flodder In America!, Sleepless In Seattle, It Could Happen To You, The Associate, Almost Famous, Inside the Osmonds, Hollywood Ending, Eloise at Christmastime, Eloise at the Plaza, Disaster Zone: Volcano in New York, and Bride Wars.
  • The Plaza has also appeared in a number of iconic television shows, including; Friends, Seinfeld, The Suite Life of Zach and Cody, Gossip Girl, Sex & The City, The Sopranos, What I Like About You, and Ugly Betty.
  • The Plaza was home to famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright for six years beginning in 1953.
  • The Beatles stayed at The Plaza during their 1964 trip to the United States to play "The Ed Sullivan Show".
  • The Plaza was a key setting in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Fellow author Ernest Hemingway once commented to Fitzgerald: "You should give your liver to Princeton and your heart to The Plaza."


References

  1. Wikipedia - Plaza Hotel
  2. Walk Score
  3. The Plaza website
  4. Street Easy
  5. The Plaza
  6. The Plaza Pied A Terre: Q&A With Elizabeth Stribling
  7. FirstService Corporation - Case Studies - The Plaza Luxury Condominium Private Residences


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