More than a year after the Roosevelt Hotel announced it was shutting its doors for good, a battle for its future rages on.
The long-suffering Midtown hotel is at the center of disputes over ownership and nonpayment, Crain’s reported, in addition to an initiative by some local politicians seeking landmark status for the property.
City councilman Keith Powers, Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, state Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblyman Richard Gottfriend are among those who, in a letter to the city Landmarks Preservation Commission, called for the hotel at 45 East 45th Street to be landmarked, according to Crain’s.
“As one of Manhattan’s only major hotels that has not yet even partially reopened since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are concerned that its future may be in jeopardy,” Powers wrote.
Manhattan Community Board 5 last month passed a resolution to request the hotel be evaluated for landmark status.
In October 2020, the 1,015-key hotel said it was closing permanently after nearly a century of operation. The property was constructed in 1924 and has been owned by Pakistan International Airlines for 16 years.
The struggling property is at the center of several disputes, which have stalled possible next steps for its owners and given the landmarking push an opportunity to take hold.
The Hotel Trades Council says the hotel’s owners haven’t complied with a city severance bill mandating pay for laid-off hotel workers.
The owners have filed a suit against the city in hopes of avoiding liability for the law, which compels hotels to pay eligible employees $500 per week, for up to 30 weeks. As of Jan. 20, the owners owe $7 million in unpaid severance fees, Crain’s reported.
An exception to the severance law is if hotels are converted for other use. If the building achieves landmark status and remains a hotel, the bill would come due for the unpaid severance.
The hotel’s ownership is also facing a murky future as the Pakistani government battles allegations it reneged on a mineral rights deal with Australian mining company Tethyan Copper. Court documents reported by Crain’s say the company wants to take the hotel as part of a settlement over the failed deal.[Crain’s] — Holden Walter-Warner