Sales  ·  Hotels

Emmut Properties Buys Historic Excelsior Hotel for $80M

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The longtime family owner of the Excelsior Hotel has sold the building to John Young’s Emmut Properties — a firm known for renovating, and sometimes demolishing, older and occasionally historic properties.

The 15-story tower, constructed nearly a century ago in 1923 at 45 West 81st Street, sports coveted views of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and is in spitting distance of the American Museum of Natural History. The hotel closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, which continues to hurt tourism in the Big Apple, and its former owner, Harry Krakowski, sold it to Young’s firm, the New York Post reported. Krakowski’s firm, Skyline Hotel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Excelsior was one of several landmark New York City hotels to close during the pandemic. Other historic hotels to give up the ghost include the 1920s-built Roosevelt Hotel — named after the famous president and featuring a radio in every room — and the Omni Berkshire Place, known for regulars including Alfred Hitchcock, Edward R. Murrow and Salvador Dali, Overnight New York reported.

In spite of the Excelsior’s closure, the 215-room hotel still has a hefty tax bill of more than $1 million, according to the real estate data firm PropertyShark. The Hotel Association of New York City has asked the city to lower property taxes, saying the fees cut heavily into hotel revenue during a tough time for the industry.

But Emmut Properties doesn’t plan on keeping the hotel around. The firm intends to convert the entire building into residential apartments after negotiating with the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council — the union that operated the building before its March 2020 closure — to end their contract, Crain’s New York Business reported. No rezoning is required to change the property to a residential building either, Crain’s reported.

Young’s firm has developed hotels before, finishing construction of a new 44,000-square-foot hotel and residential building at 138 Bowery, Commercial Observer reported. But the company has converted two buildings in Harlem — a church and a residential apartment building — into pricier rental properties since 2014 and fought with Greenwich Village residents in the early aughts when it planned to convert a theater and former opera house to a mixed-use tower. Young did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his plans for the land.

RMB Properties marketed the more than 133,000-square-foot building for sale, though it was not immediately clear who brokered the deal. RMB Properties did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update: This story has been updated to include Emmut Properties’ plans for the hotel.

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.