February 1950

A receipt from the Hotel Statler from February 1950, courtesy of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas J Hickey from Richmond Hills, NY.   They stayed there on their wedding night.  I’m happy to report both are still around today, and are in their 90’s.

Vornado Realty Trust’s Q4 2016 Results – Earnings Call Transcript

Not much news in the way of the Hotel Penn’s fate.  As you know, from the “Moving Madison Square Garden” meeting we posted, Vornado has a lot in store for that area.  Seems right now they are focusing more on the “Moynahan Station” project, which is scheduled to be completed in 2020 then anything else.  Below is the link to the transcripts.

VNO 4th Quarter Transcripts

Moving Madison Square Garden and the Battle for a Better Penn

DATE AND TIME

Thu, January 19, 2017

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM EST

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LOCATION

SAG-AFTRA Foundation – Robin Williams Center

247 West 54th Street

New York, NY 10019

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DESCRIPTION
An extraordinary evening with three distinguished architectural and planning experts:

  • Vishaan Chakrabarti – Founder of the Practice for Architecture and Urbanism
  • Michael Kimmelman – Architecture critic of The New York Times
  • Tom Wright – President of the Regional Plan Association

They will lay out their vision for the future of the West Midtown Transit Corridor, the largest transportation hub in the United States, which includes Penn Station, Moynihan Station, Amtrak’s Gateway project and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
Join us for a lively discussion about the future of regional transit, why Madison Square Garden needs to be moved, how it can happen, and what a new, world-class Penn Station would mean for New York.
[Image Credit: Practice for Architecture and Urbanism]

Fidel Castro

Castro waves to crowds on his way to Pennsylvania Station from the Statler Hilton Hotel in New York City, en route to Boston. IMAGE: CARL T. GOSSETT JR/NEW YORK TIMES CO./GETTY IMAGES Castro waves to crowds on his way to Pennsylvania Station from the Statler Hilton Hotel in New York City, en route to Boston.
IMAGE: CARL T. GOSSETT JR/NEW YORK TIMES CO./GETTY IMAGES Fidel Castro outside the Statler hotel in New York. Photograph: New York Daily News/Getty Images  Fidel Castro outside the Statler hotel in New York. Photograph: New York Daily News/Getty ImagesCastro waves to crowds outside the Statler Hotel. IMAGE: JOHN DUPREY/NY DAILY NEWS VIA GETTY IMAGES Castro waves to crowds outside the Statler Hotel.
IMAGE: JOHN DUPREY/NY DAILY NEWS VIA GETTY IMAGES

Hotel Penn still in danger. Roth still sees it as a “Parking Lot”…

In todays 3rd Quarter earnings conference call Steve Roth still referred to the grand ‘ol lady as a “parking lot”

“A word about the hotel business in New York. While both domestic and international tourism remains strong, the hotel industry is in a down cycle, the victim of gross oversupply. The results of our Hotel Pennsylvania have been weak. We continue to look at this hotel as a parking lot for future development as part of our overall Penn Plaza strategy.”

Still no decision on if they want it to be a residential or an office tower.

The transcript can be found here

Are apartments the answer for Vornado’s Hotel Pennsylvania?

Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steven Roth has offered up yet another possibility for the future of Hotel Pennsylvania — apartments and retail.
Uncertainty has swirled around Vornado Realty Trust’s plans for the building for years. It was originally slated to become 68-story office tower called 15 Penn Plaza, but that plan was jettisoned when Merrill Lynch decided not to lease space there. In 2013 Vornado announced a $300 million renovation, but in 2014 it said the proposal for 15 Penn Plaza could be back on.
On a conference call last week, Roth said an office building at the site simply isn’t a viable option with current market conditions.
“The problem is we cannot deliver the site economically in competition with what Hudson Yards is doing and the World Trade Center is doing. And we’re not off by a little, we’re off by a lot for lots of different reasons,” he said, according to Real Estate Weekly. “I can’t tell you how much we hate having to build a building where we have to get $150 rents or something like that,” he added.
He stopped short of making a definitive plans, however. “The options for Hotel Penn are, leave it where it is, knock it down,” he said, “If we knock it down, it’s going to be apartments and retail. If we leave it the way it is, it’s going to be a hotel.”

A letter from one of our supporters

We received this letter (along with a generous donation) yesterday, from Robert Clayton, a NYC resident, and a preservationist, who is no stranger to fighting city hall.

I first became interested in preservation in 1974, when, at the age of 20, I fought to save Loew’s Triboro Theatre in Astoria. Our committee was successful in getting the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate the building on July 23, 1974, but the designation was overturned by the Board of Estimate at the behest of then-Borough President Donald Manes. Manes didn’t believe in preservation at all.

In 1980, I formed the Committee to Save the RKO Keith’s of Flushing. Donald Manes’s old buddy, former Deputy Borough President Lawrence T. Gresser, Jr. was trying to build a shopping mall on the site of the theatre, all on the public dime. The City of New York Public Development Corporation (PDC) was pushing very hard for Gresser’s mall (to be called Flushing Plaza), and applied for an Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG) in Gresser’s behalf. In 1984, after years of meetings, hearings and petitions, the LPC finally designated the theatre’s lobby, grand foyer, men’s and women’s lounge’s, mezzanine promenade and auditorium. Essentially all the major public spaces in the building. The designation only happened after Gresser’s mall project fell through. While claiming to have Venezuelan investors, no private money was ever shown, and Gresser’s application for a UDAG was denied.
Manes then offered the LPC a compromise (to rescind the auditorium’s designation), which was rejected. The LPC preferred instead to rescind the entire designation, but the Board of Estimate, again at Manes’s behest, pushed through an amended designation which excluded not only the auditorium but the mezzanine promenade and the lounges as well. That was Manes’s way of showing the LPC who was boss and that next time they had better work with him.

Well, Donald Manes’s evil eventually caught up with him, but after going through such disappointments, I stayed away from preservation projects for a long time. However, the Hotel Pennsylvania situation, and my own recent retirement, has renewed my dedication to fight again. I am just appalled and outraged over the LPC’s inaction. If their reason is that too much of the hotel’s original interior has been lost, well, I remember when interior landmarks didn’t even exist. Designations originally only applied to a building’s exterior. The Pennsylvania is one of the last hotels from a golden age. The Astor, Savoy-Plaza, the Commodore and many others are gone forever. (Do you have Nathan Silver’s book, Lost New York?) The Hotel Pennsylvania’s history and close association with the original Penn Station alone should make the hotel worthy of preservation.
Well, we who would like to save the Hotel Pennsylvania seem to have been given a second chance due to the “stay of execution.” But we mustn’t squander this opportunity. We can’t let the grass grow under our feet. If it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the right people must be timely reached. The LPC needs to be pushed into making designations which they would prefer to avoid. I saw how their deliberate inaction resulted in the gutting of the Biltmore. Where do the Municipal Art Society and the New York Landmarks Conservancy stand on this issue? Has anyone contacted met with them yet? I’ve worked with them before, over the RKO Keith’s.

Thank you Robert, for your tireless effort, and support of NYC history!

Ruins of an 1895 Broadway theatre found under Toys R Us in Times Square

Great article was published by Timeout NY. The old Broadway Theatre from 1895 was found under the current now vacant) location of Toy-R-Us in times square.
The article (written by David Cote) was published a few days ago. This is a remarkable find, however the most interesting part of it, according to the article is “the owners of the building are not interested in theater preservation; they plan to erect a massive flagship store for Gap and Old Navy.” The owners of the property (according to a nyc property search is 44-45 BROADWAY REALTY CO.) The full article can be found here.