WWD Tuesday | June 21, 2005
At Your ServiceBy Marshall Heyman
NEW YORK -- Ian Schrager got the idea for his first set of full-service residences at 50 Gramercy Park North from his friends in Southampton, N.Y. They all have "estate managers," employed help who unshutter the summer manses, hire the butlers, maids and kitchen staff and plan clambakes down to ordering the lobster bibs. "They just take care of everything," Schrager explains. "All my rich friends have one, but I never did. They said, `You're crazy.' It gave me the idea for the building." It also prompted him to finally hire an estate manager for his Southampton home, which he did last year. It's a sort of "hassle-free living," he says. "I'm helpless. I'm fortunate that I really do nothing. I don't have to worry about the gardening. I just get to enjoy everything, and I can have 100 percent capacity for work."
The 23 apartments at 50 Gramercy range in price from $5 million to $16 million and lie adjacent to the Gramercy Park Hotel, which Schrager is also refurbishing for a projected opening in spring 2006. Karl Lagerfeld is rumored to have bought in the building, and only four units remain available. Many of the residences have what Schrager calls "outdoor rooms," really a luxurious way of saying "decks," that overlook Gramercy Park. Still, how many people have 800-square-foot decks? What's more, the residences come with what are called "lifestyle managers." They're not concierges -- you can buy into the Sherry Netherland or the Pierre if you just want that, the developer says. ("I would never live in a hotel," he confides. "It doesn't have roots. It doesn't have the sense of privacy.") "An apartment with hotel services has been done before. But what we're doing at 50 Gramercy is like having your own staff," Schrager says. His building's employees can take care of your pet when you're away, hire a cook to cater a small dinner party or do personal shopping. "It's effortless. There are no responsibilities," he says.
As for the new Gramercy Park Hotel, Schrager will only say that the aesthetic is a mixture of the quirky and the traditional. "It's like it's on acid," he says. He's trying to keep his latest projects a bit more intimate -- he's also working on a three-room hotel on Bond Street that will be surrounded by more residences like those at 50 Gramercy. It will be his first building constructed from the ground up. He's already secured the penthouse in that new development for himself; the fact that it will have a pool makes it especially palatable to his children. It's also just downtown enough for his liking. "If I go above 14th Street now, I get a nosebleed," Schrager says.