Special permit for retail use issued for Plaza Hotel

Owner required additional permit to complete Plaza Hotel’s conversion plan. When El-Ad Properties bought the Plaza Hotel in October 2004, it proposed to convert the hotel’s 805 rooms into luxury residential condos and use the hotel’s banquet rooms, meeting spaces and existing retail as high-end retail destinations. Public opposition to the plan resulted in a compromise by which El-Ad agreed to maintain 284 hotel rooms and convert the remaining 511 rooms into 181 private condos. During the process, Landmarks designated several of the Plaza’s interior spaces, including the Oak Bar, the Oak Room, the Palm Court, the Terrace and the Edwardian Rooms. 2 CityLand 105 (Aug. 15, 2005).

Because the reduced number of hotel rooms no longer justified accessory retail space, the proposed retail required a special permit. The Plaza sits on a split-zone lot predominately within an R10-H zone, a residential zone that only permits residential use as of right. Only one quarter of the site is zoned for commercial retail uses. The Palm Court, the Oak Room and other commercial space within the Plaza Hotel had been considered accessory to the hotel.

El-Ad applied for a special permit under a zoning code provision that allows owners of a landmarked building to alter the use without rezoning the site in exchange for an agreement to maintain the landmark in perpetuity. In its application, El-Ad proposed to add retail within the sub-cellar through third stories including the Terrace Room, and to put restaurant space in the Edwardian Room, the Oak Room, Oak Bar and Palm Court. The permit also sought to add exterior signage announcing the retailers.

The Commission approved, noting it was appropriate to continue the Fifth Avenue shopping corridor into the Plaza Hotel and that the signage was correctly scaled. The Commission emphasized that approval of the use permit required the owner to “restore the Plaza to its former grandeur” and maintain it in that state for the building’s lifetime.

ULURP Process
Lead Agency: CPC,Neg.Dec.
Comm.Bd.: MN 5, App’d, 31-7-1
Boro. President: App’d

CPC: Plaza Hotel (C 060431(A) ZSM – special permit, use, signage) (August 9, 2006) (Jay Segal, Greenberg Traurig LLP, Costas Kondylis & Partners LLC Architects, for Plaza). CITYADMIN

CITYLAND Comment: A complete copy of the restrictive declaration to be recorded on the property, which contains the Plaza’s maintenance requirements, is available on CITYADMIN. Search: “Plaza Hotel”

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