Starwood Capital takes over New York library hotel development project

NEW YORK CITY The planned conversion of a New York City library building into a luxury boutique hotel will be pursued by Starwood Capital Group now that Orient-Express Hotels has formally back out of the project.

Orient-Express has transferred its purchase and development agreements for the Donnell branch of the New York Public Library to Starwood Capital and an affiliate of Tribeca Associates LLC. The new joint venture assumes all the terms and obligations of the original contract made between Orient-Express and the New York Public Library, including the reimbursement of all previous payments made by Orient-Express and the assumption of all future payments. Tribeca and Starwood Capital Group intend to build a world-class hotel on the site, which is across from the Museum of Modern Art.

“Whilst economic circumstances prevented us from pursuing this development, we are delighted to see the project going ahead,” says Orient-Express CEO Paul White. “We are pleased to recover our deposits, which will further help strengthen our balance sheet.”

In 2007, Orient-Express had agreed to pay US$59 million for the five-story building, with plans to convert it into an 11-story hotel as part of a US$220 million renovation. The library would be retained on the first and second floors.