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July 6, 2012 By Steven Greer
The new Conrad Hotel was written up by The New York Times in an article titled “It’s a Goldman World”. In it, a long-time resident of Battery Park, Rosalie Joseph, complained, “(The Conrad and shops) doesn’t feel like a neighborhood anymore. It feels more like Fifth Avenue…after changing the neighborhood, it is difficult to get Goldman engaged with the neighborhood…I believe they took away more than they gave.” Her observations seem to ring true with the Conrad Hotel, at least.
BatteryPark.TV has extensively covered the new restaurants and shops since they opened this year. Indeed, the term “Goldman Alley” was first coined by BP.TV. Many of the establishments have made our “Best of Downtown” list with favorable reviews. As we predicted, the consequences of the real estate improvements have brought the celebrities to visit and move to Battery Park. However, the Conrad Hotel, managed by Robert Rechtermann, is shaping up to be a major disappointment to the community.
In previous July 4th holiday weekends, the old Embassy Suites hotel, before it was converted into the Conrad, was packed with visitors and guests of Battery Park residents. This year, despite perfect weather, the hotel seemed empty, although it was not. A manager of the Conrad commented, “We were about 50% to 75% occupied (for July 4th)”.
The rooftop “Loopy Doopy” bar is a far cry from the once popular Battery Park Ritz Carleton rooftop bar that closed after the financial collapse of 2008. With no shielding from the blistering sun, employees are sunburned and look to be close to succumbing to heat stroke, while the customers bake on a sunny day. There are supposed to be automatically extending sun shades attached to the building walls, but sensor malfunctions have kept them retracted. The construction company that installed them, Hunter Roberts, did not reply to our emails and calls.
On the southwest corner of the Conrad building is a yet-to-be leased space that is now temporarily serving as a Goldman Sachs’ sponsored LMCC art venue, but most passersby do not realize it even exists. The walls are so sparse that it looks to be under construction. The only artists exhibiting work are those students whom have received LMCC grants, and the work is underwhelming.
The restaurant within the Conrad Hotel, the Atrio, is often empty. With entrees exceeding $30, the nearby new restaurants with comparable or lower prices, and famed chefs, seem to be better options.
The Regal Cinemas, an important venue for culture in Battery Park, has been hidden away inside the hotel. New automated ticket kiosks have bizarrely been placed on the external walls of the hotel, far away from the Goldman Sachs entrance.
Completely hidden inside the Conrad is one of the finest barber shops, Salvatore’s. The most powerful politicians and CEO’s in New York have their hair cut there, but the Conrad has posted no external signs for the community to see.
Fittingly, the architectural design of the giant atrium of the Conrad has received poor reviews from locals. BP.TV has heard comments such as “It seems too cold and sterile.” (see video below)
Goldman Sachs bankers Timur Galen and Dino Fusco are the master planners for the Conrad Hotel and “Goldman Alley” spaces. In customary tightlipped culture made infamous by former head of corporate communications, Lucas van Praag, Mr. Galen and Mr. Fusco have not been available for interactions with the community or comment to the press. Goldman Sachs community liaison Karen Holm has never replied to any of our calls or emails.
As the NY Times wrote, the Conrad Hotel seems to exist primarily to serve the “Goldman World.” With the sweetheart deals granted by the state and city to entice Goldman to build their headquarters in Battery Park, the community will soon begin to expect more.