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High-Profile Hospitality Projects Helping CKP Carve Deeper Hotel Niche

NEW YORK–– In addition to its projects for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., Costas Kondylis and Partners, LLP also has its designing hands in two other high-profile projects that combine hotel and residential aspects.
Right in Starwood’s corporate backyard, the firm has designed a mixed-use development in White Plains, NY, that will include two 40-story (occupied) buildings that between them incorporate The Ritz-Carlton, Westchester (123 rooms) and The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton— 400 private condominiums.
The towers, which taper to an actual height of 48 stories, are part of a $400 million, 940,000-square-foot, phased complex dubbed “Renaissance Square.” The complex is coming out of the ground via developer Louis Cappelli of Cappelli Enterprises and also will have office space and street-level retail.
One tower houses the hotel on floors one though nine, including 32 condo-hotel units and amenity space on floors seven to 10; there are 189 residences above that. The hotel also will feature a 10,000-square-foot spa and fitness center; two restaurants and 10,000 feet of meeting and event space.
The second tower, now under construction, will offer Class A office space on four floors and the remaining will be residential units. Both buildings are expected to open in 2008.
According to CKP associate architect and designer Tahir Demircioglu, who is responsible for the shape, exterior articulation and façade systems of the buildings, the structures have “a very contemporary look…the developer knows he has a 21st century building.”
In contrast, the firm is working to keep the distinct historic aura of The Plaza Hotel, which opened in 1907.
Bought for $675 million in September 2004 by Elad Properties, the legendary 805-room Manhattan property was shuttered last year to begin the conversion to multimillion-dollar private residences, guestrooms and hotel residences, the latter of which will go into the it s hotel rental program.
At last count, 282 rooms on the hotel’s 58th St. side were slated for transient use: 130 as traditional guestrooms; 152 as condo-hotel rooms, which will feature “owner’s closets” for storage. The remaining rooms, facing Fifth Ave. and Central Park, are being reconfigured into luxury residences.
Kondylis partner L. Stephen Hill, said CKP retained “respect for the structure and the institute of The Plaza Hotel.” However, from a business perspecitve he said the nearly million-square-foot hotel as it was “was no longer functioning. It wasn’t making the money to keep the hotel owners and the building owners happy. They had more than 100 rooms that were unusable. It was like your great-grandmother’s house that you always remember fondly; then you get there and your really see how threadbare it is.”
The building, whose exterior had been landmarked, has been the subject of several debates and landmarks commission rulings regarding its interiors, such as the Palm Court and the Oak Room. Hill said Elad favored such rulings. “Nobody was arguing about those sorts of spaces. They welcomed it. They all thought it was a great idea. It was the circulation spaces, the back spaces— extraneous spaces that weren’t critical to the interior landmark status of the building–– that’s where the debate went back and forth,” said Hill.
Prior to landmarking, the design originally called for fewer hotel rooms. “So in the middle of the project, we stopped and started redesigning the whole thing. To an already complicated process, that made it even more interesting,” said Hill.
The all-suite hotel residences, which start at $1.5 million, reportedly run from 472 square feet to 1,536 square feet. Private residences include one- to three-bedroom units and duplex and triplex penthouses.
Essential to the property, noted Hill, is the firm’s installation of a new central mechanical system that eliminates the construction that previously blocked some of the hotel’s windows and views with louvres. “Now people will have much larger windows than they did before.”
Beyond rooms, another intriguing aspect CKP is bringing to The Plaza is the resurrection of its interior courtyard space, basically lost over time to serve as a repository for mechanical systems and equipment, and only visible to guests whose rooms had a “view” to the forgotten space.
“It was on multiple levels, and now it’s more or less on one level,” said Hill. That has enabled the firm to put in a reflecting pool at the eastern end and a small stream feature that flows toward the west of the T-shaped courtyard.
“The idea is that the condominiums at that level, which have little terraces with outdoor space and awnings, are surrounded by this green space with water features in it. It creates a very tranquil environment in what was a mechanical courtyard,” he said.
The courtyard façades also are getting window treatments, new doors and French balconies with doors that open outward. “Visually, it’s going to be a lot more exciting than it was,” he said.
Hill said overall “it’s a tremendous amount of work to get done in a very short time frame,” since Elad Properties “is dedicated” to having the property open for the building’s 100th anniversary next year.