Closed for business: Ground lease management files eviction lawsuit against Gramercy Park Hotel

The entrance to Gramercy Park Hotel as it appeared on DEC. 23 when it surfaced that the business may come to a halt.
Photo by Dean Moses

Solil Management takes RFR to court, putting the future of the Gramercy Park Hotel in jeopardy.

On April 23rd, Solil Management filed a lawsuit against Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty in an attempt to end its 72-year ground lease and collect $79.5 million owed from their contract deal.

First reported by The Real Deal–a real estate news website—owner of Gramercy Park Hotel Aby Rosen’s RFR Realty owed approximately $900,000 in ground lease payments to Solil Management (RFR Holding does not own the land on which it sits).  The management company placed an eviction notice onto the iconic hotel’s doors in December demanding payment; however, none was made and on March 17th RFR was served a notice of termination, canceling their contract that would have allowed Gramercy Park Hotel to remain on the grounds until 2078.

For over a year the Gramercy Park Hotel has remained shuttered since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, sitting as an empty shell of a bygone time that once served massive cocktail parties.  First opened in 1925, the hotel is described as landmark on its website, boasting luxurious amenities, such as imported Italian linens and exquisite artwork from the likes of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, all of which has been closed off to guests since 2020.

In the lawsuit, Solil Management claims that RFR Realty has been negligent toward the property, allowing it to fall in disrepair.  The battle between these two organizations has been an ongoing affair. In 2006, Rosen and other partners signed the 72-year lease with Solil Management, which would offer $5 million per year for the land. However, in 2010, Rosen bought out his partners, becoming the sole owner of the hotel, and tried to renegotiate the terms of his contract to match the service industry’s economic climate.

According to the Real Deal, it was after Rosen’s RFR’s renegotiation that Solil reported Rosen began removing valuables from the property, such as the precious art boasted on their website and then ceased in making rent and tax payments. Within the court records, The Real Deal also shared, that RFR has the funds to pay what they owe to Solil Management after receiving $6.3 million in federal paycheck protection program loans.

The Gramercy Park Block Association has been keeping a keen eye on this matter since the Northside of the area is not landmarked. 

“This is an issue that the Gramercy Park Block Association is following particularly closely since Gramercy Park North, with the exception of Calvary Church, is not in the Gramercy Park Historic District and therefore the buildings there, including the hotel, are not landmarked. This means that there are fewer restrictions on what can be done with the property,” Arlene Harrison President of the Gramercy Park Block Association, wrote in a newsletter to its members. 

“The status of Maialino restaurant, which many of you have also been asking me about, is tied to that of the hotel, and the restaurant will not be able to reopen until the hotel opens,” she wrote, alerting individuals to the ongoing issue.