Good news on the Hotel Pennsylvania front since we first wrote about the issue of the hotel. The New York media is beginning to write about the controversy of tearing down the McKim, Mead & White hotel, which was once the largest hotel in the world. New York officials are also recognizing its value. And all this is happening at a time when the demand for hotel rooms in New York remains strong.
The hotel sits in the way of a redevelopment plan for the Penn Station area. Finally, people are realizing that it is an important New York icon; the local community board voted for it to become a landmark. While the vote is not binding, it is important as it is the first step by a government agency to recognize the importance of the building.
The other thing. Perhaps Vornado Realty Trust, its owner, doesn’t yet realize the value of the hotel as a hotel, and Hotel Pennsylvania as a brand. For years, it has been marketed as a budget hotel. If it were converted and moved upscale, its value (and the value of the Hotel Pennsylvania brand name) would increase. There is no reason why Hotel Pennsylvania can’t be turned into something that can be scaled and copied around the U.S. (We love any company (like Vornado) that keeps the Alexander’s department store brand name alive as a real estate company even when the stores are no longer.)
The New York Observer ran a story on Maura Moynihan, daughter of the late senator. It seems like she is caught in the middle of the folks who are beginning to recognize that this might not be such a good idea. In addition, the possible demolition comes at a time when money markets are uncertain.