The Gramercy Park Hotel Closes: History of the Landmark
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The Gramercy Park Hotel – posh when it opened a hundred years ago, then kitsch and cheap when frequented by almost the entire Woodstock range, then posh again under owner Aby Rosen – has become found at the end of another of his eras. Last week, auctioneers sold everything from furniture to bathrobes as visitors recounted their favorite memories of the beloved New York institution: Remember when Debbie Harry lived there and the rooms had hotplates? Or when Zoë Kravitz launched her jewelry line with Penn Badgley in 2013?
For some die-hard GPH fans, the disappearance of the hotel, which is now rumored to become condos, is not just a disappointment but a travesty. When Rosen, a famous luxury real estate mogul who kinda looks like the guy from Quaker Oats if he had been on Gossip Girl, added it to his portfolio in 2003, along with former partner Ian Schrager, he brought in Julian Schnabel to update dilapidated interiors, raised carpeting and hung artwork from their private collections . The couple transformed the hotel from a seedy, eccentric oddity into a place where celebrities unironically partied during Fashion Week and where tourists could admire a lobby installation by Damien Hirst while waiting to hang out. to register. (Rosen’s exaggerated art collection is as well known as his luxury buildings: his children’s bedrooms in his Manhattan townhouse were once described as “ridiculous,” with “like Basquiats on the wall next to them.” a Soprano pinball. Rosen bought out Schrager in 2010, and so was the face of a long-running hotel eviction battle between his company, RFR Holding, and the owner of the land the hotel sits on, Solil Management. By now, there’s a long string of reports about the Gramercy Park Hotel’s ignominious final years – so what really led to the downfall of this legendary spot where Cuba Gooding Jr. was once seen “be ‘super nice’”?
Like nearly every hotel in the city, GPH effectively closed when the pandemic first took hold in March 2020. And like many, many tenants, it stopped paying rent, according to Solil. (Rosen leased the land for more than $5 million a year.) In December, the landlord sued RFR for eviction, via a notice on the door, if he failed to produce the $900,000 he owed. . Eventually, as the vaccines rolled out and more hotels returned, the Gramercy Park Hotel remained stubbornly, mysteriously closed. The decision, in addition to potentially confusing Solil, apparently pissed off his restaurateur. Danny Meyer, owner of Maialino, which after 12 years of operation had remained closed on the ground floor, tweeted in November 2021 that he and his staff “continue to wait for the GPH Hotel to reopen so we can start cooking for you again. We miss you too, share the frustration and look forward to the day we return.”
In April, Solil again filed a lawsuit, this time to end RFR’s lease entirely and to collect a tab that the company said had ballooned to $79.5 million. In that lawsuit, Solil claimed that the problems at GPH actually started in the summer of 2019, when Rosen tried to renegotiate the lease because, by The real dealhe argued that “the city’s hotel market fell so precipitously that it rendered the lease ‘worthless'” (no details on why he thought that even before the global pandemic, though). The real deal also reported that, according to the suit, Rosen began removing furniture and artwork from the space – and once the pandemic started he apparently used the hotel as a private home instead of open it. According to the suit, he installed his mother in a three-room suite, while letting her “deteriorate”, fixing the HVAC system with duct tape.
Rosen, who owns huge sprawls of office space downtown, has been very public about his concern about the shift to remote working brought on by the pandemic. He himself reportedly tried to rekindle the back-to-work momentum by allowing employees of his real estate business to stay at GPH for free. (“I said to everyone, ‘Guys, do you want to stay Tuesday night or Wednesday? Be my guest,'” Rosen Told Bloomberg. “’Breakfast is at nine o’clock. Then, show up to the office whenever you feel like it. “”) Meanwhile, as “Page Six” reportedRFR took out $6.3 million in loans to fight the pandemic.
Rosen and RFR were finally expelled in June. A lawyer for Solil said Rosen did not give them access to the hotel to show it to potential tenants; a spokesperson for RFR only said that “due to the impact of COVID and the terms of the lease, the tenant has found that it is no longer economically feasible to operate the hotel”. And by the end of September, former guests, barflies and fans were sorting through his lamps and chairs.
Speculation about the hotel’s disappearance is further fueled by the fact that Rosen has a colorful and well-reported history of digging into feuds of all kinds: he fought with his neighbors on Long Island, for example, when ‘He placed the 30-foot-tall Damien Hirst Statue “Virgin Mother”, a pregnant woman whose fetus is visible, on his lawn. He once entered a public brawl with author Tom Wolfe on a planned Upper East Side tour. In 2014, he would have rejected a historic Picasso tapestry as a “schmatte” when he wanted to remove it from its longtime location, the Seagram Building, which he also owns. Some people, it seems, just don’t like it. The New York Job declared last year that he “ruined the Gramercy Park Hotel and got away with it”. (Rosen called the story “lies.”)
Even without the GPH, Rosen remains invested in hundreds of millions of dollars of prime downtown real estate at a time when it hasn’t exactly rebounded: In 2019, it bought the Chrysler Building for $151 million with an Australian investor, and is set to complete a $200 million renovation of the ground floor space, creating a “playground” for tenants with a wall of basement climbing. Similarly, the Seagram Building car park has been converted into an “amenity center” with a basketball court. Last year, RFR Holding fell nearly $300 million on an office building on Fifth Avenue with its partner Penske Media, which publishes rolling stone and Variety. He’s trying to sell a historic building at 281 Park Avenue South for $135 million (the same one Anna Sorokin, aka Delvey, tried to rent for her private club).
Whether through negligence or bad timing, the Gramercy Park Hotel is dead. A friend who attended the sale flew away with a pair of velvet pillows; another with a breakfast tray and coffee service. The scene of a landmark being stripped of parts via a line of shoppers that stretched the length of the block is a reminder that nowhere is safe from the whims of the market — not even the website where Jewel once spontaneously sang “Summertime” for her Leonardo DiCaprio date. But in what might have been a fitting ending for the hotel, it was, at the very least, a scene.