In a story in its January issue, Vanity Fair delves deep into the saga of El-Ad Properties, the Israeli company responsible for buying the Plaza Hotel and converting its well-loved, if aging, rooms into super fancy condos. The building’s high-profile buyers (who signed on for the apartments sight unseen), have been complaining about "small windows, low ceilings, obstructed views, buckling floors, trashed carpets, glacially slow elevators, and frequent interruptions of running water," among many, many other things. And that’s just the obvious stuff. A Vanity Fair source "with knowledge of the materials used in the hotel rooms" uncovered a host of cut corners:
"Instead of Italian marble for the bathroom floors and walls, El-Ad used low-density marble from China (about 50 cents a square foot). The crown moldings in the rooms aren’t actually wood or plaster; they’re fiberglass and run from $2 to $7 a foot. (High-end crown molding can cost $70 a foot, and real plaster molding many multiples of that.) The so-called mahogany closet is in fact just a thin layer of mahogany veneer over industrial particleboard…The carpet in the hallway on the penthouse level was cut and cobbled together—a practice known as “patch-n-match.” (The interior designer of the renovation and hotel representatives stand by the materials used in the project.)"
Of course, signs of unrest have been leaking out of Eloise‘s house for a while now. Back in September, The Observer reported that Russian financier Andrei Vavilov was suing El-Ad to get back the $10.7 million deposit he paid on a two-unit, $53.5 million penthouse in the building (he’s also asking for tens of millions of dollars in damages). Mr. Vavilov was unhappy with the "unilateral and impermissible design changes" the company made to his penthouses, which included "diminishing the livable square footage, cutting down sight lines, minimizing windows and lowering ceilings," not to mention his disappointing view, the focus of which was a "hideous drainage grate."
Mr. Vavilov isn’t the only Plaza resident suing El-Ad: High-end real estate broker Joanna Cutler is demanding reparations for the "night of terror" she spent trapped in one of the building’s garbage rooms last winter, according to Vanity Fair:
"As she has told it, it was 11 p.m. when she took her trash to the garbage room, just a few steps from her apartment. When she turned to leave, the door was jammed. She banged and called out. Silence. She had neighbors, but they were out of town. She got down on her hands and knees, slipped her fingers under the door, and tried to push what was blocking it. It was a sharp board, meant to protect the carpet, and it sliced into her fingertips. Suddenly, she began to panic. What if there’s a fire and no one finds me and I burn to a crisp? It wasn’t until six a.m. that a building worker passed by, heard her screams, and pried the door open. According to her lawyer, Sue Karten, for her troubles Cutler was given a gift certificate from the Plaza for a facial; now she plans to sue the developer for negligence and is wallowing in disappointment."
Follow Caroline Bankoff via RSS.