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Renderings of penthouse addition (Matt Markowitz, Architect for Landmarks Preservation Commission) Renderings of penthouse addition (Matt Markowitz, Architect for Landmarks Preservation Commission)
On Tuesday, February 14, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (“Landmarks”) is scheduled to hear an application to construct a penthouse addition on the roof of 45 West 81st Street, the longtime site of the Excelsior Hotel located in the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District. A presentation prepared by Matt Markowitz, Architect shows a penthouse addition with a terrace and solar panels on top; it also depicts extended stair and elevator machinery bulkheads. The addition is visible from several vantage points, but not jarringly so.
The Landmarks hearing represents the latest stirrings of life at the Excelsior Hotel, which closed its doors during lockdown and never reopened them. In its heyday, it was especially popular around Thanksgiving due to its proximity to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route. In December 2021, the owners of the building sold it to Emmutt Properties for $79.9 million.
The new owner of 45 West 81st Street is best known for its high-end rentals, and they would not be the first to convert a hotel into residences. There was considerable buzz about this at the height of lockdown, but it has quieted as of late with many empty properties now being used to provide temporary shelter to the homeless (as the Excelsior Hotel itself was from 2016 to 2019) and newly arrived migrants. But even before the pandemic, a number of hotels throughout New York had already been converted, some only partially, to residential use.
When a hotel building is converted to residential use, the historic architecture has often been left alone amidst the conversion of the interiors. Upon completion, it is exciting to consider that someone famous could have stayed on the very spot where one’s present-day apartment is. Moreover, it’s easy enough to adapt existing hotel guest amenities to residential use. However, sometimes the switch from hotel rooms to residential units can result in unusual floor plates; and in the case of buildings where the hotel is still functioning below the housing units, there’s a risk of residents tripping over guests at the amenities.

1295-Madison-Avenue-01 The Wales (The Corcoran Group)
Madison Avenue condos
Upper East Side condos
In one of Landmarks' first virtual public hearings during lockdown, plans were approved to turn the historic Hotel Wales (nee Hotel Chastiagneray) into luxury condos. The Beaux Arts facade was restored to its original grandeur amidst the conversion, and the rooms were transformed into half- and full-floor apartments. A discreet penthouse was added to the top of the building, but prospective residents have been anything but: Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost were seen touring the penthouse in May 2022, and Sean Hayes recently had a look at it as well.
6 Available Listings for Sale from $3,635,000

2109-Broadway-01 The Ansonia (Sotheby's International Realty)
Upper West Side condos
When the full-block Ansonia was constructed in 1904, it opened its doors as a luxury hotel. Today it is a New York City Landmark and condominium that has proven popular with celebrities. Amenities include an attentive staff, garage, and landscaped roof deck, but its greatest perk may be its Upper West Side address near Central Park, Riverside Park, Lincoln Center, Beacon Theatre, the American Museum of Natural History, and many fine dining options.
5 Available Listings for Sale from $1,125,000
3 Available Listings for Rent from $6,700/month

140 East 63rd Street
Built in 1927 | Converted in 2005

140-East-63rd-Street-01 Barbizon 63 (Douglas Elliman)
When this Romanesque-style building opened in 1927, it was a residential hotel for women where men were not allowed above the lobby floor. Decades later, it has hosted the likes of Grace Kelly, Sylvia Plath, Liza Minnelli, Joan Crawford, Cloris Leachman, and Ali McGraw, and been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In its current incarnation as a condominium, women and men alike are welcome in all apartments and amenities like a Club Salon, 20-seat screening room, and separate Equinox gym.
5 Available Listings for Sale from $819,999
1 Available Listing for Rent for $11,500/month

Modern listings for apartments in the Emery Roth-designed Ritz Tower tout "hotel service" among the residential amenities. This is not hyperbole; the dramatic tower with setback terraces was originally conceived and operated as a hotel co-developed by William Randolph Hearst, who moved into it with actress Marion Davis.
5 Available Listings for Sale from $395,000
1 Available Listing for Rent for $10,000/month

111 East 56th Street
Built in 1926 | Converted in 1956

111-East-56th-Street-01 The Lombardy (Compass)
Down the street from the Ritz Tower (see above), the Lombardy Hotel was another venture by William Randolph Hearst and one that would welcome guests like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Richard Rodgers, and Edna Ferber, the latter two of whom lived in neighboring penthouses that have since been combined (now asking $4,500,000). Amenities and staff like 24-hour doorman, concierge, twice-daily maid service, valet parking, and dry cleaning service hark back to its days as a luxury hotel meeting guests' every need.
7 Available Listings for Sale from $510,000
2 Available Listings for Rent from $6,750/month

106 Central Park South
Built in 1930 | Converted in 1988

106-Central-Park-South-01 Trump Parc (CityRealty)
Before a certain infamous developer and former United States President got into the mix, 106 Central Park South was built as the Barbizon Plaza Hotel, a coed counterpart to the Barbizon Hotel for Women (see above). It was especially attractive to artists for its studios, concert and performance spaces, and exhibition salons. Amidst the conversion to condos, the grand ballroom was turned into a magnificent apartment with 50 feet of Central Park frontage; it has since sold for $6,850,000.
3 Available Listings for Sale from $1,050,000
4 Available Listings for Rent from $6,000/month

1 Central Park South
Built in 1907 | Converted in 2007

1-Central-Park-South-01 The Plaza (Compass)
NYC condos
When Eloise was first published, the idea of anyone, much less a precocious child, living at the Plaza Hotel was preposterous. But in the early years of the 2000s, the hotel underwent a partial conversion to residential condominiums. Residents have their own entrance on Central Park South and enjoy access to the hotel's concierge, spa, Oak Room lounge, and Palm Court restaurant.
21 Available Listings for Sale from $990,000
7 Available Listings for Rent from $8,195/month

Park Avenue condos
NYC condos
As the upper floors of the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel get converted to residential apartments, the iconic Art Deco skyscraper's facade and landmarked interiors are getting spruced up as well. Homeowners arrive to entry foyers with Concierge Closets that allow for private deliveries, and enjoy access to 50,000 square feet of private residential amenities as well as the hotel's shared services.
11 Available Listings for Sale from $1,895,000

160 Central Park South
Built in 1930 | Converted in 1974

160-Central-Park-South-01 J.W. Marriott Essex House (CityRealty)
Thanks to a giant rooftop sign, there is no mistaking this Art Deco tower in the Central Park South skyline. Before Marriott International took over operations, it was simply Essex House, a luxury hotel that welcomed guests like Igor Stravinsky and hosted Alain Ducasse at Essex House. Following the partial conversion of upper floors to condos, residents and guests alike enjoy access to the hotel's lavish lobby, not to mention its white-glove services, high-end amenities, and address near Fifth Avenue and Columbus Circle.
7 Available Listings for Sale from $949,000
9 Available Listings for Rent from $6,000/month

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