Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

Wellington Hotel, a tourist landmark at 871 Seventh Ave. and West 55th St. since 1902, seems to be heading towards its final check-out.

Owner Richard Born has invoked a demolition clause to remove four retail owners, including the famous Greek restaurant Molyvos, Realty Check has learned – suggesting the end is imminent for the vacant 27-story hotel.

Molyvos, as well as the popular Park Café diner and two small shops, must be out by January 1st. A demolition clause does not necessarily mean that an entire building must be demolished. It can also be used when an owner plans to sell or significantly renovate the property.

But the warnings are not good for Wellington. It briefly served as a homeless refuge after the pandemic hit and is still empty. The hotel industry is booming despite an increase in tourism, and pre-war inns like Wellington are particularly vulnerable.

Born, rector of DB Hotels, did not respond to a detailed message left in his office.

Molyvos has been a popular destination from the western 50s since 1997. Park Café dates back 30 years.

Molyvos owner Nick Livanos said the postponement came as a “surprise” as he had renewed the lease shortly before Covid and renovated the restaurant’s kitchen and air conditioning units.

Molyvos owner Nick Livanos says he does not blame his landlord.
Steve Cuozzo

Livanos said: “Richard has been a wonderful landlord and there is no bad feeling. This is simply a victim of the pandemic.”

A Park Café employee confirmed that it was also forced out under the demolition clause, but declined to say more.

Born’s plans remain a mystery. Neither demolition nor construction plans have yet been submitted to the Ministry of Building.

On July 22, ownership of the property passed from Wellington 871 Holding to Wellington Property Owner, both with offices at 871 Seventh Ave., according to city records. No money changed hands and the purpose of the transfer was unknown.

Since the spring of 2020, about 250 of the city’s 700 hotels have been closed or converted into temporary homeless housing.

Vijay Dandapani, president of the Hotel Association of New York, had not heard of the Wellington situation, but said he was not surprised.

Wellington Hotel
The same demolition clause that is forcing Molyvos to close affects Park Café.
Steve Cuozzo

“The hotel market is not going as some expected. I do not see it coming back to the 2019 level before 2025,” said Dandapani.

He noted that Born’s company, which owns thousands of hotel rooms in Manhattan, recently sold 600-room Watson on West 57th Street and may want to unload other marginal properties.

“He’s not going to sell his goods,” Dandapani said. “He’s just careful.”

Close to Carnegie Hall and Broadway theaters, Wellington promised guests “the warmest welcome in New York.” The original hotel was small but eventually grew to more than 600 rooms.

Richard Born’s father, Robert Born, who died in 2000, was the driving force behind Wellington’s expansion.

Pickleball, the funky ping pong / paddleball hybrid game that has “won over everyone from Leo DeCaprio to your grandparents,” according to Vanity Fair, is the latest tenant lure at Aby Rosen’s Seagram Building.

A man is surrounded by pickleballs on a court
Seagram Buildings athletics facilities will include pitches for pickleball enthusiasts like this gentleman.
Washington Post via Getty Images

The landmark tower at 375 Park Ave. has added a pickleball court to its playground, a 34,000-square-foot recreation complex, $ 25 million below Seagram Square, which opens in mid-2022. The facility will also have space for basketball, volleyball, floor hockey and even a climbing wall.

“Tenants see Seagram Playground as a compelling differentiation,” said Rosen’s EVP for leasing, AJ Camhi.

The revitalized building also boasts newly created outdoor terraces as well as The Grill and The Pool, restaurants that occupy the former Four Seasons rooms.

The playground and the tower’s other facilities helped to trigger 46,000 square feet of recent and just completed new and renewed leases. They include a move of 17,519 square meters in the tower of Ehrenkranz Partners, a tenant since 1992, and an extension of another long-term tenant, Investindustrial. Both companies mentioned Playground as a factor in their decisions to stay with Seagram.

In addition, CapVest Partners, Decheng Capital and Skyway Equities were among the companies that signed new leases.

A full view of the skyscraper known as the Seagram Building
Owner Aby Rosen has upgraded the Seagram Building with new terraces as well as the recreational offers.
Getty Images

But the 880,000-square-foot Seagram Building tells the story of two office blocks. Rosen’s RFR Realty is chasing a single large tenant, or possibly two, to replace Wells Fargo, which left 250,000 square feet in March when it moved to Hudson Yards.

The rest of the tower is almost 100 percent rented out. Inquiry for rent varies from $ 148 to $ 175 per square foot.


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