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No Shortage of Takers for Condos on Top Floors
 of  New York's Plaza and St. Regis Hotels

Daily News, New York
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Nov. 28, 2004 - How much would you pay to live 24/7 like a pampered guest at The Plaza hotel?

Try $3 million -- for a cozy one-bedroom apartment.

The world's rich and famous are lining up to fork over $3,000 per square foot for condos at the famed hotel and at the St. Regis just steps down Fifth Ave., New York magazine reports in its upcoming issue.

"I must've had a hundred calls," Dolly Lenz, a broker with the Douglas Elliman agency, told the magazine.

Sheiks, European princes and assorted multimillionaires will get one of the most prestigious addresses in the world -- plus the option of nightly turndowns and primo room service to boot.

So if you want a glass of chocolate milk at midnight or a T-bone steak at 7 a.m., it's all yours, for a price.

"If I can afford it, why not?" asked Enrique Fajardo, 43, of Mexico, as he hopped into a pedicab outside The Plaza.

"I think it would be a great place to live," said Plaza guest Yvonne Stevens, 47, of London.

Rumors of the impending partial conversion have been swirling through first-class airport lounges and five-star restaurants since Israeli developers El-Ad Properties plunked down $675 million for the hotel a couple of months ago.

Now it's official: The top few floors of the iconic 800-room hotel will be turned into apartments. At the St. Regis, floors 8 through 12 are up for grabs.

When you're talking about marquee names like those, there's no shortage of takers.

"One guy wants to buy a dozen for his family," Lenz said. "It's insane."

For the hotels, the conversion is a no-brainer. Hotels like the Pierre and the Carlyle have been selling units for years.

In the best-case scenario, a top-of-the-line hotel suite might rake in $200,000 a year, the magazine said. Sounds good, but when you subtract property taxes and operational costs, that's little more than a 6 percent return. Better to unload a slice of the place for top dollar.

For globe-trotting businessmen, having your own place at The Plaza is a bit like owning a room at Buckingham Palace.

"If you say you're living at 610 Park Ave., they'll say, 'Where?' " Michele Kleier of the Gumley Haft Kleier real estate agency told the magazine. "If you say The Plaza or the St. Regis, there's a mystique."

Jacqlyn Pinho, 14, could live with or without the mystique. But a cute guy in a uniform bringing dinner sounds great.

"I think it would be cool," said Jacqlyn, who is staying at The Plaza for a weekend shopping trip with her mom. "I'd get things like room service -- ooh, yeah!"

For Mary Ann Nethers, a short stay was enough of a splurge.

"Listen, I'm not in the $3 million range," said the 74-year-old from Albuquerque.

By Maki Becker and Dave Goldiner

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