Hyundai scoops up former hotsheet hotel for $22.5M

Deal marks close of X-rated chapter in city’s history

500 West 14th Street and Hyundai's Kyung Soo Lee
500 West 14th Street and Hyundai's Kyung Soo Lee (Google Maps, LinkedIn)

Manhattan’s last hourly hotel finally has a buyer, with all signs pointing towards the historic venue morphing into something decidedly less intriguing: a car dealership.

Hyundai Motor America scooped up the Liberty Inn at 500 West 14th Street for $22.5 million on July 18, securing the highest known sale price per square foot in the trendy Meatpacking District for sellers Edward Raboy and Richard Loring Moss. They had listed the property through the entity Duanco Inc.

The bedside stay closed its doors Feb. 26 after 54 years in business. Its website described itself as New York’s highest-rated and “most sexiest” option for a quick jaunt, and as having hosted “hundreds of thousands” of guests during its long run.

B6 Real Estate Advisors’ Christoffer Brodhead and Brock Emmetsberger brokered the deal for the seller. Emmetsberger pointed to Hyundai’s Genesis House at 40A Tenth Avenue, a Tesla showroom at 860 Washington Street and the Rivian dealership at 60 10th Avenue as indicators of an emerging commercial trend in the pricey riverside neighborhood.

The tiny, triangular property sold for $3,340 per square foot. It offers 6,735 square feet of build space, but boasts another 4,488 square feet in air rights for a total buildable space of 11,220 square feet.

Hyundai Motor America spokesman Michael Stewart told the New York Post that “details regarding our plans will be made available at a later date.”

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It’s safe to say that an hourly-rate motel will not be included.

The Liberty Inn was the last remnant of a bygone era in New York, whose downtown was marked by risqué clubs and fueled by sex work for the better part the 20th century.

The 2,244-square-foot, flatiron-shaped lot heralds back to the days when the Meatpacking District earned its namesake. Initially, 500 West 14th Street was a dicey boarding house for men dubbed the Hotel Strand, nestled among meatpacking operations, dive bars and sex clubs. It catered to sailors fresh off the docks of the Hudson River, according to court documents obtained by Ephemeral New York, a blog chronicling the gilded age of the city.

In the immediate aftermath of the Titanic wreck, the New York Times rented out a floor of rooms facing Pier 54 to serve as a halfway point where reporters could dictate stories via phone about the “unsinkable” ship’s survivors brought to the city by the Carpathia.

Some 60 years later, the location became home to one of New York’s most notorious gay S&M nightclubs, The Anvil. Operating on the north-facing side of the Liberty Inn, the split-level, after-hours spot became a favorite haunt of Lou Reed and Freddie Mercury. That stretch of the property’s history ended in 1985, when the AIDS epidemic triggered a sweeping closure of such establishments.

Should Hyundai choose to demolish the odd building at 500 West 14th Street, now cornered by public green spaces and steps away from Chelsea Market, it will complete a 40-year transformation of the city’s X-rated subculture for a tourist-oriented, pricier future.

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