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Gramercy Park Hotel, 50 Gramercy Park North

Between Park Avenue South & Lexington Avenue

Carter Horsley
Review by Carter Horsley
Carter Horsley Carter B. Horsley, a former journalist for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Post. Mr. Horsley is also the editorial director of

In late 2004, numerous older hotel properties in the city in prime locations began to be converted to luxury condominium apartments to take advantage of a very, very strong market for such units.

Some of these projects involved total conversion such as the former Intercontinental Hotels on Central Park South and on Lexington Avenue at 48th Street and the former Stanhope Hotel on Fifth Avenue at 81st Street; others involved partial conversions such as this property and the Plaza and St. Regis Hotels on Fifth Avenue; and demolition, such as the Mayflower Hotel, whose lot is now occupied by 15 Central Park West.

This property was erected by Bing & Bing as the Gramercy Park Hotel at 2 Lexington Avenue in 1925 and was designed by Robert T. Lyons.

It replaced a house belonging to Stanford White, the famous architect that had replaced a house in which Edith Wharton, the novelist, was born. In 1930, Thompson & Churchill designed an expansion along 21st Street.

Overlooking Gramercy Park, which is private and locked and open only to residents of buildings facing it, the property has an interesting history as the residence of famous writers such as S. J. Perelman, Edmund Wilson and Mary McCarthy, and as the site of Humphrey Bogart's wedding in 1926 and of a several-month-stay shortly after it opened by Joseph P. Kennedy and his family including the 11-year-old John F. Kennedy, Jr. Babe Ruth often drank at the hotel's bar.

The developers of this project are Ian Schrager, a founding partner of Studio 54, the legendary disco, and subsequently of the Morgans Hotel Group, and Aby Rosen, a real estate investor whose portfolio includes the Seagram's and Lever House buildings on Park Avenue.

The residential section of the project, which includes about 180 hotel rooms, has 23 condominium apartments, many with 18-foot-high ceilings, and a key to the park.

The apartments ranged in price initially from about $3.75 million to $20 million and were designed by John Pawson, who designed Calvin Klein s shop on Madison Avenue and 60th Street. The kitchens are clad in American cherry wood, satin-finished Varenna cabinetry and double sinks designed by Pawson. The master bathrooms have deep, oversize tubs, travertine basins and walk-in showers. All apartments will have floor-to-ceiling windows, park views and white oak floors and many will have wood-burning fireplaces and 12-foot-four-inch-high ceilings. The building's lobby is being gutted and raised in height to two-stories and a rooftop bar will become a private club.

The brown-brick property has a two-story limestone base and is designed in Renaissance Revival style.

The hotel portion of this project has concierge service, valet parking and limousine service, access to a rooftop garden and meeting rooms. The public portions of the hotel have been designed by Julian Schnabel, the artist and movie director, in an eclectic and flamboyant style.

Apartments will have housekeeping service, room service, massage and spa services, catering services, supervised childcare and babysitting services, pet walking services, fresh flower service and private storage.

"Not only is Gramercy Park convenient to Midtown," notes the project's website, "you could say that Gramercy Park is the real 'Midtown' because it is so central to all the areas of Manhattan that one frequents. You're at Centerpoint in the functional center of New York City and New York City is the functional center of the planet."

"The hotel is being created," the website continued, "by Ian Schrager's longtime partners, Michael Overington and Anda Andrei, with a little help from some of Ian Schrager's friends which include the painter, Julian Schnabel. The Gramercy Park's idiosyncratic, eclectic vision will offer a perfect modern alternative to the institutional approach one now finds in even the most high-end boutique hotels. As Morgan's marked a paradigm shift in hotels twenty years ago and created a new industry, so the new Gramercy Park Hotel will accomplish the same impact today. It will be the most spirited and charming hotel in New York, reflecting a fabled heritage and the lively, adventurous spirit of an emerging age. A great hotel is not just a building, it's an individual, with personality, spirit and authenticity. It's original, romantic, surprising, poetic and whimsical. It evokes an emotional response like a work of art."

While the exterior of this property is pleasant with a few decorative balconies, it is not as attractive as the stately apartment building at One Lexington Avenue. In recent decades, the Gramercy Park Hotel had been rather doughty and less than luxurious, but in its new incarnation it is very lively.

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