New York Times
by Patrick McGeehan
September 15, 2009
The “Lullabuy of Broadway” is preparing for a long hibernation.
Management of the Milford Plaza Hotel near Times Square has notified its 354 employees that it will close in December for a renovation that will take at least 18 months, according to state records and a spokesman for the union that represents most of the workers.
The 1,301-room hotel, which has promoted itself to theater-loving tourists for decades as the “Lullabuy of Broadway,” is scheduled to close after the last guests check out on Dec. 12, said Jeffrey E. Pertz, a representative of the hotel’s owner. Mr. Pertz said the hotel’s business traditionally begins to tail off two to three weeks after Thanksgiving.
He said closing then and forgoing the New Year’s Eve rush would allow the work, including a mechanical overhaul and an interior redesign, to begin early next year. The hotel should reopen by October 2011, he said.
“It’s an old, beautiful building in a great location,” Mr. Pertz said. But it is old and needs to be upgraded, he said, to appeal to business travelers and others seeking a lower-priced alternative to neighboring hotels like the Marriott Marquis, the Westin New York and an InterContinental that is scheduled to open across the avenue next year.
The hotel’s staff will be laid off with severance, Mr. Pertz said. John Turchiano, a spokesman for the New York Hotel Trades Council, said that the union represents 268 of the hotel’s employees. Under their contract, those workers have the right to be recalled to their jobs after the renovation, but Mr. Pertz said the operators were still negotiating final terms with the union.
The Milford Plaza, on Eighth Avenue between 44th and 45th Streets, was at the center of a contentious struggle within the Milstein family for a few years.
The Milsteins bought the old Royal Manhattan hotel in 1978, fixed it up and opened it in 1980 with rooms priced at $39 a night. In 2001, Seymour Milstein prepared to auction off the hotel, fueling a feud with his brother Paul. They eventually settled their differences, keeping the hotel in the family.
Mr. Pertz declined to say how much the hotel would charge for rooms after the renovation.