The Grand Hyatt, Donald Trump’s first major construction project in Manhattan, is being torn down.
Called 175 Park Avenue, the project is designed to create public space and make considerable improvements to the surrounding infrastructure.
In the place where the Grand Hyatt still stands, was the Commodore Hotel, designed by Warren & Wetmore, it opened in 1921.
But 50 years later, the area went downhill, affecting both New York Central Railroad as well as the Commodore Hotel itself.
Trump wanted the old hotel, and he succeeded in buying it even though he didn’t have enough money. With an unprecedented tax break and the renowned Hyatt Group as a partner.
The Trump Organization reportedly spent 100 million dollars refurbishing the hotel, wrapping it in a mirrored glass. Only the foyer of the Grand Ballroom was retained, with its stucco and neoclassical columns.
In 1980 The Commodore reopened as the Grand Hyatt to very mixed, if not downright hostile reviews from critics and citizens alike.
Architecture critic Francis Morrone’ wrote in the Architectural Guidebook to New York City,
The exterior of the Grand Hyatt is a mirror box, and an utter and inexcusable outrage to the cityscape of East 42nd Street, situated as it is between two masterpieces, Grand Central Terminal and the Chrysler Building.
The Grand Hyatt imposes its garish vacuity with a painful lack of concern about the way it relates to one of the architecturally most-significant streets in America.”
Nine years after the conversion, the state demanded rent payments totalling millions of dollars. An investigation revealed that Trump had approved “unusual” accounting.
In 1993 Trump accused Hyatt owner Jay Pritzker of blackmail and filed a lawsuit against him. Pritzker then sued Trump in 1994, and in 1996 the partnership came to an end when Pritzker’s company bought Trump’s half interest.
Back to the Future
The new 85-story tower was reduced from 1,642 to 1,575 feet, but still enough to surpass Central Park Tower for the title of tallest building in New York by roof height.
Besides fulfilling the East Midtown Rezoning goal of modernizing outdated property with buildings designed for the post-COVID era, developers say that 175 Park Avenue will also generate private investment worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which will also benefit train and subway users.
The building site is situated directly above three subway lines, and its supporting girders conceal the mezzanine level of the subway station. Removing the building paves the way for eagerly anticipated improvements.
- new, optimized entrances to the subway and Terminal
- a link from the railway and subway stations
- a new transit hall
- high ceilings and glass skylights
- roughly 2,230 square metres of elevated outdoor public space
- 2 large staircases and barrier-free elevators on 42nd Street
As a replacement for Trump’s unpopular Grand Hyatt, the new building complex will create time-saving routes to work and outdoor public spaces.
175 Park Avenue (which is on Lexington & 42nd?) is set to open in 2030. Meanwhile, the Empire State Building, which opened 100 years from that date, took just one year to build.
(Photos, renderings SOM; via UBM)