By Carol Tannenhauser
The Excelsior Hotel, at 45 West 81st Street, has been sold for nearly $80 million to Emmut Properties, “a developer that specializes in converting buildings to pricey residential rentals,” according to the New York Post on Tuesday. The seller was Harry Krakowski.
The building is a landmark, originally opened as a residential hotel in 1922, under the name of The Hotel Standish Hall. “It became the Excelsior sometime in the 1950s,” according to Overnight New York. “Until the late 1990s, it was a congenial budget hotel with layers of old paint on the walls, simple furniture and $75 rooms. It also had a terrific old-fashioned coffee shop ($2.25 for pie and coffee) overseen by a hostess who looked like Tallulah Bankhead and wore evening gowns and marabou boas when seating jean-clad guests for bagels and eggs. The hotel received a radical redo in 1997, which moved it up-market and increased the comfort level….”
The Excelsior was a popular place to stay during the Thanksgiving holiday, because of its location on West 81st Street, one of the blocks where the balloons for the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are inflated. The Excelsior was also once the home of the Latin restaurant Calle Ocho, which opened there in 1998. Calle Ocho eventually moved to 2756 Broadway, at 106th Street.
Beginning around 2016, The Excelsior was used by the City to house families experiencing homelessness. In August 2016, WSR reported [the City] was “renting some rooms in this commercial hotel to help meet its legal obligation to provide shelter to homeless New Yorkers who would otherwise be turned out onto the street. Although this hotel is not being converted into a homeless shelter, DHS provides 24/7 security and on-site social services for families during their stay there.”
According to the Post, the former owner was facing financial problems that led to the sale of the hotel. “Despite being closed, the 133,000 square-foot hotel with 215 rooms has a city property tax bill of $1.3 million — with half of that due Jan. 1. And because the Excelsior failed to reopen by Nov. 1, a new city law called for the former owner, Harry Krakowski, to pay severance of $500 per week for 26 weeks for each of his employees.”