The Real Deal New York

The Viceroy Hotel is selling at a massive loss

Arden Group in contract to pay $41M; hotel last sold in 2013 for $149M
By Mark Maurer | July 13, 2018 02:45PM

Arden CEO Craig Spencer and Viceroy Hotel at 120 West 57th Street (Credit: The Arden Group, Viceroy Hotel and Resorts, and Booking)

New York REIT finally found a buyer for the Viceroy Hotel – at a sliver of the price it acquired the five-star Billionaires’ Row property for in 2013.

Arden Group entered contract to acquire the 29-story, 240-key hotel at 120 West 57th Street for $41 million. When the deal closes in the third quarter, New York REIT will have liquidated its entire portfolio, except for a 50.1 percent stake in One Worldwide Plaza.

Ark Partners developed the Viceroy in 2013, and that same year, sold the leasehold for $148.5 million to New York REIT. The deal marked the first hotel purchase for the real estate investment trust, then known as New York Recovery REIT.

The REIT then put the hotel on the market in early 2016, about a year before Wendy Silverstein joined as CEO and kicked the liquidation process into high gear.

While the company’s many Manhattan office and retail buildings sold, the hotel hung around, stalled by a disconnect between buyers and the seller on pricing.

Late last year on an earnings call, Silverstein noted the hotel was seeing offers far lower than she expected. Factors included the skyrocketing ground-lease payments and the cost to terminate the hotel manager.

“After covering high fixed costs primarily from the ground lease and union labor, the hotel is basically breaking even,” she said at the time. “To make the math work, prospective buyers have to get comfortable with the already high and escalating ground lease payments, underwrite a significant operational turnaround and factor in the cost to terminate the existing manager. They have therefore adjusted their pricing expectations.”

New York REIT announced the deal Thursday night, and Bloomberg first reported on the buyer. Silverstein is in talks to leave New York REIT for a senior position at WeWork.

Eastdil Secured is representing the seller on the Viceroy deal. HEI Hotels & Resorts will serve as the hotel’s property manager.

The difference in the price per key is immense: about $620,000 in 2013 and $170,000 now. The $41 million price represents a mere 27 percent of the previous price.

In addition to Vicecroy’s mounting expenses, the Manhattan hotel market is in a radically different place. The borough saw a slump in RevPAR — or revenue per available room – and pricing power, but there appears to be turning around in recent months.

There has been a flurry of hotel investment-sales deals in the city lately, including a Qatari hospitality group’s $600 million purchase of the Plaza Hotel and Rotem Rosen’s $162 million purchase of the Hotel Indigo. Some hotels – the W Union Square and the James hotel — traded at a loss.

Arden, a Philadelphia-based developer and lender, recently provided a $21 million loan for Holliswood Development to buy one of the oldest nursery schools in New York.