Exec. Vice President
By JOSH BARBANEL
When the best rooms at the Plaza Hotel, for a century a symbol of affluence and style, reopened as condos in 2007, Giuseppe De'Longhi, the chairman of an Italian maker of stylish espresso machines and pasta makers, was one of the first condo buyers to close.
Now, after the restored Plaza Hotel has been through some ups and downs of a turbulent real-estate market, Mr. De'Longhi has doubled his investment in the legendary building. Property records filed on Friday show that he paid $11 million for a second three-bedroom apartment facing Central Park.
Brokers said that the sale price, though off about 5% from what the apartment fetched in 2007, was part of a quickening pace of sales and strengthening prices at the Plaza, as it recovers from slack sales a year ago, and as the amenities, including restaurants and a restored Palm Court, have reopened.
"It is a beautiful building, and it will ultimately be an extremely valuable investment," said Raphael De Niro, a broker at Prudential Douglas Elliman, who is listing another three-bedroom apartment on a higher floor at the Plaza for about $13 million.
Both of Mr. De'Longhi's apartments face Central Park, and have park views from each room. Brokers said Mr. De'Longhi plans to add a staircase to turn the apartments on the 15th and 16th floor into a duplex that would have more than 4,500 square feet of space.
Mr. De'Longhi is chairman of De'Longhi SpA, an appliance company based in Treviso, Italy, and produces portable heaters and air conditionals along with kitchen appliances.
When Mr. De'Longhi bought his first apartment at the Plaza, his broker, Jill Sloane at Halstead Property, said that like many European buyers, he was drawn to the building because he had stayed as a guest over the years before it sold to a developer, El-Ad Properties.
Ms. Sloane declined to comment on the second purchase, as did Mr. De'Longhi. The seller wasn't identified in the deed, but property records show that the condo board had filed a lien against the unit for $37,000 in unpaid common charges.
The Plaza has long been overshadowed by the stronger resale prices at 15 Central Park West, a new condominium a few blocks to the west with a limestone facade, designed to echo the pre-war condominiums that line Central Park West.
During the downturn, the Plaza was beset by public spats with buyers of several apartments who filed suit to get their deposits back. The suits were eventually settled, but rattled some potential buyers.
A year ago, about 30 of 181 original apartments at the Plaza (not counting combinations) were on the market at the same time. Now there are 23 apartments on the market.
Four currently are listed in contract, including the large corner apartment next to the one purchased by Mr. De'Longhi. That apartment went on the market two years ago with an asking price of about $18 million, but after a series of price cuts, it was last listed for $13.9 million.
Tuesday, June 08, 2010