Wellington Hotel appears poised to close — and will oust two restaurants

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The Wellington Hotel, a tourist destination at 871 Seventh Ave and West 55th St since 1902, is inching towards its final check-out.

Owner Richard Bourne has enforced a demolition clause to remove four retail tenants, including famed Greek restaurant Molyvos, RealtyCheck has learned – suggesting the end is imminent for the vacant, 27-floor hotel.

Molyvos, as well as the popular Park Café diner and two smaller stores, should be out by January 1. The demolition clause does not mean that the entire building has to be demolished. It can also be used when an owner is planning to sell or substantially renovate the property.

But the signs are not good for Wellington. It served as a homeless shelter for some time after the pandemic hit and remained vacant. The hotel industry is crumbling despite a boom in tourism, and prewar inns such as Wellington are particularly vulnerable.

Born, the principal of DB Hotels, did not respond to a detailed message left at his office.

Molyvos has been a popular West 50s destination since 1997. Park Cafe dates back 30 years.

Molyvos owner Nick Livanos said the evictions came as a “surprise” as he renewed the lease and refurbished the eatery’s kitchen and air-conditioning units shortly before Covid.

Molyvos owner Nick Livanos says he doesn’t blame his landlord.
steve cuzzo

Livanos said, “Richard has been a wonderful landlord and has no ill feelings. It is only a casualty of the pandemic.”

An employee of the Park Cafe confirmed that she too was being forced out under the demolition clause, but declined to say more.

Birth plans remain a mystery. Neither the demolition nor the construction plan has been filed with the building department so far.

On 22 July, according to city records, title to the property passed from Wellington 871 Holding to the owner of the Wellington property, with both offices at 871 Seventh Avenue. No money changed hands and the purpose of the transfer was unknown.

Since the spring of 2020, about 250 of the city’s 700 hotels have closed or been converted into temporary homeless housing.

Vijay Dandapani, president of the Hotel Association of New York, had not heard of Wellington’s situation, but said he was not surprised.

Wellington Hotel
The same demolition clause that is forcing the closure of Molyvos affects Park Cafe.
steve cuzzo

“The hotel market is not growing the way some people expected. I don’t see it coming back to 2019 levels by 2025,” said Dandapani.

He said Bourne’s company, which owns thousands of rooms in a Manhattan hotel, recently sold the 600-room Watson on West 57th Street and would like to offload other marginal properties.

“He is not going to sell his good people,” said Dandapani. “He’s just being prudent.”

Close to Carnegie Hall and the Broadway Theatre, Wellington promised guests a “warm welcome to New York”. The original hotel was small but eventually grew to over 600 guest rooms.

Richard Bourne’s father, Robert Bourne, who died in 2000, was the driving force behind Wellington’s expansion.

Pickleball, the funky ping pong/paddleball hybrid game that has “conquered everyone from Leo DeCaprio to your grandparents,” according to Vanity Fair, is the latest tenant-greed in Abby Rosen’s Seagram Building.

A man surrounded by pickle balls on a court
The Seagram Building’s athletic facility will include courts for pickle buffs like this gentleman.
Washington Post via Getty Images

The historic tower at 375 Park Avenue has added a pickleball court to its playground, a 34,000-square-foot, $25 million recreational complex below Seagram Plaza, to open in mid-2022. The facility will have space for basketball, volleyball, floor hockey and even a rock climbing wall.

“Tenants are seeing the Seagram playing field as a compelling differentiator,” said Rosen’s EVP of leasing, AJ Cami.

The revitalized building houses newly constructed outdoor terraces as well as The Grill and The Pool, the restaurants that occupy the former Four Seasons spaces.

The playground and other features of the tower helped spark the recently completed 46,000 square feet of new and refurbished leases. These include a 17,519-square-foot relocation within the tower by Ehrenkranz Partners, a tenant since 1992, and an expansion by another long-time tenant, InvestIndustrial. Both firms cited the playing field as a factor in their decisions to remain at Seagram.

In addition, CapWest Partners, Decheng Capital and Skyway Equities are also among the companies that signed the new lease.

Full view of the skyscraper known as the Seagram Building
Owner Abby Rosen has upgraded the Seagram Building with new terraces as well as entertaining offerings.
Getty Images

But the 880,000-square-foot Seagram Building tells the story of two office blocks. Rosen’s RFR Realty is hunting for a bigger tenant or possibly two to replace Wells Fargo, which left 250,000 square feet behind when it moved to Hudson Yards in March.

The rest of the tower is almost 100% leased. Asking rent ranges from $148 to $175 per square foot.


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