NYC is the perfect party palace
If you think the places where some people live in NYC are bedazzling, you should see where they play.
Some of the city's most breathtaking real estate is only temporary: spaces that are routinely refurbished and redecorated into lavish lairs for fabulous fetes and Hollywood-style hooplas.
New Yorkers looking for a one-night party palace can get limited-time ownership of some of the world's most renowned and recognizable spaces. And make no mistake about it: NYC's temporary real estate business - like its more permanent counterpart - is in a class of its own.
"There's something for everyone," said Sarah Pease, a party planner and event designer who runs Brilliant Event Planning. "You can go the traditional route and book The Plaza in June, or you can go for a down-and-dirty loft in Red Hook."
In NYC, the entire city is your canvas, and you can awaken almost any space to your wildest dreams.
Xochitl Gonzalez of TriBeCa-based AAB Create has designed for different types of parties that have run the gamut. There was the event she planned at the historic Art Deco-style Skylight One Hanson - the site of Brooklyn Flea - where guests were seated around old bank tables. And then there was the blank-slate-style loft "where we brought in vintage chandeliers and transformed a space to look like a 1920s restaurant," Gonzalez said. "It created a totally different mood."
"By and large, these places are flexible because the types of events are on the cutting edge for event design," Pease explained. "People are willing to take down a $5 million painting to replace it with something else."
"What's great about NYC is you never get typical banquet-hall style," said Andrea Correale, president of Elegant Affairs and an expert commentator on Celebrations.com.
Besides Old New York-style buildings and modern lofts, funky hotels are also becoming popular party venues, said Lindsay Landman of Chelsea-based Lindsay Landman Events.
"Hotel weddings used to be associated with the Plaza ballrooms, but now people are going for more boutique-style places like Trump SoHo, where you get 360-degree views of the city," Landman said. "You simply cannot get a date at the Bowery Hotel. And smaller event spaces at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Crosby Street Hotel and the Hotel on Rivington are really popular."
Chelsea's Altman Building, a 19th century carriage house, is the perfect example of a blank-slate loft with an open floor plan and endless possibilities for decor.
Shauna Gray, director of business development at the Altman Building, said she's seen the place completely transformed to convey certain themes, such as "under the sea." But since the building is landmarked, there are restrictions on what can be hung from the ceilings and how the facade can be covered.
Many New Yorkers prefer loft-like spaces because of the design opportunities. Correale has used ample lighting, trees and even natural water and rock elements. In one case, she installed a floor-to-ceiling waterfall.
And just like apartment hunters, New York City's party set loves good views.
"If you get a room with a skyline view or a venue with a rooftop, it's really special," Correale said. "You can't buy that anywhere else."
Some of the city's most famous structures, such as the Museum of Natural History, the New York Public Library on 42nd Street, the Brooklyn Museum, and even Ellis and Liberty islands, are available to rent.
Of course, these places don't come cheap: The cost of renting out such in-demand spaces usually starts at about $8,500 - and goes way, way up.
But they also come with other limitations.
The New York Public Library and the United Nations, for example, have policies forbidding religious ceremonies.
At public places such as Ellis Island, loading and unloading must take place after hours, and parties aren't usually allowed to start until after closing time.
The advantage, however, of these old-time spaces is the built-in ambience, and thanks to the history and general grand design, they don't need much work in terms of decor.
"The fun challenge for us is to make these places feel unique, young, new and fresh - not stodgy," Landman said.