Equinox founder sells Buckingham Hotel to UBS for $60M

By Sarabeth Sanders | July 07, 2010 06:01PM

A partnership including Equinox founder Danny Errico has sold the
Buckingham Hotel, the storied, 100-room luxury property at 101 West
57th Street near Sixth Avenue, for $60 million, city records show.

Details
of the transaction were not immediately clear, but the buyer, Hartford,
Conn.-based UBS Realty Investors, closed on the deal June 11.

Built
in 1929 by the Uris Brothers, the Buckingham Hotel was held by Benjamin
Shapiro Realty, a family-run residential property owner and operator,
for the better part of the 20th century and has a rich history of
hosting the city’s artistic elite.

Cultural icons who’ve
enjoyed extended stays at the hotel include composer and former Polish
Prime Minister Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Metropolitan Opera baritone
Giuseppe De Luca, painter Georgia O’Keeffe and legendary tenor Giovanni
Martinelli, who lived in the duplex penthouse during his 30-year
residency at the Met. The refurbished Martinelli penthouse now rents
for between $2,500 and $3,500 per night.

In 2006, the 18-story, 112,977-square-foot property was sold to Errico’s partnership, James Hotel 57 Owner, LLC, according to property records. Errico,
who sold Equinox to two private investment firms for more than $100
million in 2000 (the Related Companies later acquired it for $505
million), is also the founder of the James boutique hotels brand.

Not long after Errico’s Buckingham acquisition, the economic downturn began to take a heavy toll on the hotel industry, especially on luxury properties
like the 81-year-old Buckingham. In Manhattan, revenue per available
room in the luxury hotel sector fell by 30.7 percent between May 2008
and May 2009, and has recovered only one-third of that revenue in the
year since, according to Smith Travel Research.

Meanwhile, the Buckingham’s 5,500-square-foot ground-floor retail space has sat vacant on-and-off for years,
housing a number of pop-up shops that have come and gone. Another 3,000
square feet on the basement level and up to 7,500 square feet on the
second floor have also been long without a stable tenant.

In
2008, Errico sold his James chain, including the flagship 297-room
James Chicago, to Denihan Hospitality Group. Now, after a four-year
run, he’s given up the Buckingham, too.

UBS representatives
were not immediately available for comment on the Buckingham’s future,
and hotel manager Denihan Hospitality Group directed inquiries to the
sellers, who did not respond to requests for comment.