What do Madonna, a Jewish Kabbalah center, Dr. Robert Atkins and a Portugal-based restaurateur have in common?
One six-story Upper East Side building that resembles a spaceship.
The owner of three Brazilian food restaurants in the city, Alfredo Pedro, said he plans to start renovations on 152 East 55th Street, turning his newly purchased aluminum-clad skinny building with giant portholes for windows into a boutique hotel.
For years, the building was host to the business of Atkins, founder and champion of the eponymous carb-shunning diet, the regimen that rose and fell so quickly in popularity a few years ago, around the time of his 2003 death (which happened to be caused by a fall on the sidewalk in front of the building).
In 2004, the building was sold for $5 million to the Research Centre of Kabbalah, which, according to an article in The New York Times, had financial help from pop singer Madonna.
Just three years later, the mystical Jewish group flipped the property for $9.3 million to Mr. Pedro, who also has a resort in Portugal. Sotheby’s International Realty brokers Keith Copley, Robson Zanetti and Marisa Almeida represented Mr. Pedro on the deal.
“It looks like a ship to me,” said Mr. Pedro, who said he will add two stories to the building, coat it with a screenlike facade similar to the New York Times building on Eighth Avenue and create 29 rooms in time for a fall opening.
“I’m not too crazy for a hotel to have the image that the building has now—I don’t want to change a lot of it, but I want to give it a more modern view,” he said.