When the Helmsley Park Lane Hotel at 36 Central Park South sold last year, it was a given that condos would come next; whether that meant new owners the Witkoff Group and Macklowe Properties would convert the 1971 building or tear it down was yet to be decided. Now, to the befuddlement of many, there is grassroots campaign to have the hotel landmarked, but not by the usual preservationist crowd. The Times reports that the campaign to Save the Park Lane is being "spearheaded by a TriBeCa architect who works mostly on downtown loft buildings; a real estate lawyer from Montclair, N.J.; and a former State Senate candidate from Queens who worked in the Giuliani administration."
It's pretty clear that this is an attempt to halt the developers from tearing down the building to make way for a condo tower, but no one outside of the campaign really sees the building's appeal. Steve Witkoff told the Times he plans to replace the hotel with an 850-foot tower, and like any other developer would be, he is not on board with landmarking. "I'm astonished by this whole thing. I'm amazed anyone would think to stoop this low."
An initial report compiled by John Furth Peachy (the aforementioned Tribeca architect) submitted to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, but the LPC rejected the request to landmark the building, noting that it "does not rise to the level of an individual landmark, based on its lack of architectural significance."
Even Richard Roth, who was a third generation partner at the firm Emery Roth & Sons, which designed the building, said it's not really worth it. "I certainly would have picked other Emery Roth buildings first. It's not even a particularly great building. One woman who sent a letter to the LPC requesting a hearing isn't even fully on board; she did it mostly as a courtesy. "I don't know if the Park Lane is on anybody's to-do list," she said.
Nevertheless, the Save the Park Lane crowd will go before Community Board 5 next Monday.
· A Bid to Make the Park Lane Hotel a Landmark, but Not by the Usual Suspects [NYT]
· Save the Park Lane [official]
· Helmsley Park Lane Hotel coverage [Curbed]