Gramercy Park Hotel has been out of service since the COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc throughout the city, closing business after business. Now it has been reported that the historic Manhattan guest house could be shutting its doors for good just a few days after Christmas.
The Gramercy Park Block Association sent out an alert to its members this morning calling for donations in hopes of protecting the historic nature of the area. The alert stated, “While the East, West, and South sides of Gramercy Park are landmarked, the North side of the Park is not. We are remaining vigilant about what could go into the space if the Hotel is permanently closed.”
According to The Real Deal–a real estate news website — owner of Gramercy Park Hotel Aby Rosen owes $900,000 in ground lease payments, which if not paid by Dec. 28 will lead to the management’s eviction. The same source also states that while Rosen owns the building, RFR Holding does not own the land on which it sits.
Today the 5-star hotel lies in stark contrast when compared to its appearance nine months prior. The army of lights implanted in the building’s yawning awning are shrouded by rows of scaffolding, while the main entrance is blocked off completely. It is a similar scene in the lobby. All luxury furniture has vanished leaving an empty, echoing husk with two chairs blocking the revolving doors.
The news of the possible eviction comes as a shock to local residents, especially to those who frequented its built-in restaurant. Victoria Castro stood on the sidewalk and looked at the establishment with dejected eyes upon learning that the luxury hotel may close once and for all. Since the pandemic has caused so much devastation, Castro is not surprised that another staple of the community faces eviction.
“This place used to be very lively. It was a place to drink, hangout, and I always came here. It was a hip place for people in their 20s. It was so nice. A celebratory place where NYU kids would come when they graduated,” Castro said. “It’s a similar story I hear about all the time now. I’m just surprised it happened to such a big institution like this.”
Michele Huntington is another shocked local, who is deeply heartbroken that one of the foundations of the Gramercy area is in danger of seeing its final days. The news of this establishment’s struggle makes the fear of COVID’s lasting effects even more palpable for Huntington. “It’s very upsetting to the standpoint that if Gramercy Park Hotel is that drastically affected by COVID, what’s next?” she said.
Other residents see things a little differently though. The issue of rowdy parties and clusters caused some community members sleepless nights, so for Amory Alexander, the potential loss of Gramercy Park Hotel is bittersweet news. While he worries for the future of the building, the elimination of noisy weekends once normal life resumes is a silver lining for him.
“What’s going to happen to it in the future? I live nearby so I’m certainly concerned about what they are going to do with it. If it’s going to be transferred from what it was to apartments and that kind of thing, it will cut down a lot on the nightlife here,” Alexander said adding, “If this is no longer going to be a liquor providing service, I think a lot of residents are probably going to be relieved. When things were normal, on a late night, parties would go on into the early morning.”
James Balletto works and lives in the neighborhood, passing by the Gramercy Park Hotel nearly every day. He would even occasionally treat himself to an authentic Italian breakfast at Maialino restaurant. Hearing this news has utterly blown his patience for COVID-19 recovery. Balletto believes that if the proper precautions are taken, Manhattan needs to start lifting restrictions and opening back up.
“It’s horrible. I know we have to be safe but we are literally shutting down the American economy,” said Balletto.
Gramercy Park Hotel stands as the remnant of a pre-pandemic world, when clusters of individuals could laugh, drink, and party together without a care in the world. With tourists no longer flocking to the city and group activities being extremely limited to a handful of people and in an outdoor environment, the structure simply serves as a nostalgic reminder of a time before 2020.