Sept. 4, 2007 -- The scaffolding is coming down, the shrouds are being lifted. Almost 100 years after the Plaza Hotel first set the standard for all others, the great landmark is about to reopen. A city at the apex has a new way to experience the meaning of wealth and this time you can own a piece of it.
ABCNEWS.com had an exclusive tour of the $400 million renovation.
Since its debut in 1907, the Plaza has had many owners, notably Donald Trump. It was sold to Elad Properties in 2004 for $675 million and the space was deemed too valuable to maintain as a hotel only. Elad's president, Miki Naftali, decided to transform the property and its equally famed ballroom and dining rooms into a combination of hotel rooms and private residences.
The Plaza Lifestyle in the Tens of Millions
While the hotel still has a ways to go before it starts welcoming guests, 90 percent of the residences have already been spoken for, according to Lloyd Kaplan, the spokesman for Elad.
Apartment prices range from $2.5 million to "well north" of $45 million, said Kaplan.
According to public property records, one buyer identified only as Plaza 7 Apartment LLC purchased six units for a little less than $56 million. The most expensive apartment ever? Don't hold your breath.
The new residents of the Plaza apartments are a diverse crowd. While 65 percent come from the United States — mainly from the New York metro region — others are natives of places such as Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Spain. The two apartments ABC News toured were worth $7 million and $12.5 million respectively and had both already been purchased.
On the 12th Floor, Apartments Exude Radiance
Upon opening the apartment's castle-like front door, guests are immediately taken aback by the sprawling floor plan that resembles little of what an average person would expect in a typical one-bedroom apartment.
The first apartment visited was a 1,200-square-foot one-bedroom, with 1½ bathrooms, a kitchen that seemed to have miles of counter space, along with a dining room, living room and a wide hallway leading to the bedroom.
Ceiling heights range from 9.5 feet to 14 feet, but the windows remain at the original dimensions from 1907 and actually appear quite small compared with the rest of the large apartment. Contractors were prohibited from changing the size of the windows because the facade of the Plaza is a city landmark.
All of the model apartments in the building were furnished by Versace Home. There are lots of elegant white and cream accents; the immaculate detail is evident right down to the scrupulously polished knives and forks on the beautifully arranged dining room table.
Taking the Plaza lifestyle into a new age, each apartment is equipped with Concierge Direct, a small computer screen that allows tenants to control, well, just about anything.
Upon arriving at the airport from a long trip, residents can call into their Concierge Direct and change the temperature in their apartment to ensure it's not too hot or too cold when they arrive home.
Appointments at spas and restaurants, theater tickets and car reservations can also be controlled from the touch-pad computer screen.
The second apartment ABCNEWS.com toured was a two-bedroom apartment featuring an enormous living room, kitchen, study, 3½ bathrooms and a spacious foyer. The view of Central Park was exquisite.
In addition, Juliette balconies (think small but romantic) in many of the apartments overlook a reflecting pool and garden — new additions to an interior courtyard exclusive to Plaza residents.
Even the doorknobs on the closet doors remind you of exactly where you are — the Plaza logo, a pair of back-to-back P's, is engraved in the bronze handles.
Design Replicates Original 1907 Hotel
The renovation project, while intended to update the Plaza, was never meant to alter the appearance of the hotel, which is supposed to resemble an urban French chateau.
Great lengths were taken to ensure the entire building maintained the look of the original 1907 hotel.
Left without the original blueprints or building measurements, architects had to stand across the street from the Plaza and use laser beams to take the building's dimensions, Kaplan told ABCNEWS.com.
The entire roof of the building was redone, but in order to preserve the look of the hotel, contractors searched for the manufacturers of the original roof tiles, eventually locating them in Ohio.
Inside the lobby for the new residential portion of the Plaza, the same one that had previously been used as an entrance to the original hotel, much of the grandeur has been preserved.
Four tall bronze-plated elevators line the wall and the floors are carefully lined with mosaic tiles. The design of the mosaics, made from calacatta white mosaic tile, is replicated in each of the residence's bathrooms.
Retail space, a new spa and 130 guest rooms are also available to the public.
So even if you don't have the millions it costs to live in the grand old hotel, you can always come for tea.