The Wellington Hotel, a tourist landmark at 871 Seventh Ave. and West 55th St. since 1902, appears headed for its final check-out.
Owner Richard Born has invoked a demolition clause to oust four retail tenants including celebrated Greek restaurant Molyvos, Realty Check has learned – suggesting the end is imminent for the vacant, 27-floor hotel.
Molyvos, as well as popular Park Café diner and two small stores, must be out by Jan. 1. A demolition clause doesn’t necessarily mean an entire building is to be razed. It can also be used when an owner plans to sell or substantially renovate the property.
But the omens aren’t good for the Wellington. It briefly served as a homeless shelter after the pandemic struck and remains empty. The hotel industry is reeling despite a tourism uptick, and prewar inns like the Wellington are especially vulnerable.
Born, a principal of DB Hotels, didn’t respond to a detailed message left at his office.
Molyvos has been a popular West 50s destination since 1997. Park Café dates back 30 years.
Molyvos owner Nick Livanos said the eviction came as a “surprise” as he had renewed the lease shortly before Covid and renovated the eatery’s kitchen and air-conditioning units.
Livanos said, “Richard has been a wonderful landlord and there is no ill feeling. This is simply a casualty of the pandemic.”
A Park Café employee confirmed that it, too, was being forced out under the demolition clause but declined to say more.
Born’s plans remain a mystery. Neither demolition nor construction plans have yet been filed with the Department of Buildings.
On July 22, title to the property passed from Wellington 871 Holding to Wellington Property Owner, both with offices at 871 Seventh Ave., according to city records. No money changed hands and the purpose of the transfer was unknown.
Since spring of 2020, some 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, hadn’t heard about the Wellington situation but said he wasn’t surprised.
“The hotel market is not picking up the way some people expected. I don’t see it coming back to 2019 levels until 2025,” Dandapani said.
He noted that Born’s company, which owns thousands of Manhattan hotel rooms, recently sold the 600-room Watson on West 57th Street and might want to unload other marginal properties.
“He isn’t going to sell off his good ones.,” Dandapani said. “He’s just being prudent.”
Close to Carnegie Hall and Broadway theaters, the Wellington promised guests “the warmest welcome in New York.” The original hotel was small but eventually grew to more than 600 guest rooms.
Richard Born’s father, Robert Born, who died in 2000, was the driving force behind the Wellington’s expansion.
Pickleball, the funky ping pong/paddleball hybrid game that has “won over everyone from Leo DeCaprio to your grandparents,” according to Vanity Fair, is the latest tenant-lure at Aby Rosen’s Seagram Building.
The landmark tower at 375 Park Ave. has added a pickleball court to its Playground, a 34,000-square-foot, $25 million recreational complex beneath the Seagram plaza to open in mid-2022. The facility will also have spaces for basketball, volleyball, floor hockey and even a rock-climbing wall.
“Tenants are seeing the Seagram Playground as a compelling differentiator,” said Rosen’s EVP of leasing, AJ Camhi.
The revitalized building also boasts newly created outdoor terraces as well as The Grill and The Pool, restaurants that occupy the former Four Seasons spaces.
The Playground and the tower’s other amenities helped to spark 46,000 square feet of recent and just-completed new and renewal leases. They include a 17,519-square-foot relocation within the tower by Ehrenkranz Partners, a tenant since 1992, and an expansion by another longtime tenant, Investindustrial. Both firms cited the Playground as a factor in their decisions to remain at Seagram.
In addition, CapVest Partners, Decheng Capital and Skyway Equities were among companies to sign new leases.
But the 880,000-square-foot Seagram Building tells a tale of two office blocks. Rosen’s RFR Realty is hunting a single large tenant, or possibly two, to replace Wells Fargo, which left behind 250,000 square feet in March when it moved to Hudson Yards.
The rest of the tower is nearly 100 percent leased. Asking rents range from $148 to $175 per square foot.