Report: Strategic Hotels to Buy NY's Essex House for $375M

Luxury hotel owner Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc has agreed to buy Manhattan hotel Jumeirah Essex House for about $375 million, two souurces familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The deal for the 509-room Art Deco hotel at 160 Central Park South was sold by Dubai-based Jumeirah and is expected to close within a month, according to one of the sources, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak about the matter on the record.

Dubai Investment Group, Jumeirah's parent, bought the Essex House in 2005 for $423.9 million, according to real estate research and information company Real Capital Analytics.

The hotel had about 605 hotel rooms at that time and had been owned by Strategic Hotel Capital LLC, a predecessor of Strategic Hotels & Resorts. Jumeirah spent about $90 million refurbishing it, according to the hotel's website.

A third source who is familiar with the 2005 sale said some of the rooms and suites had been converted into condominiums and sold. Most of the condos were not included in the current sale, the source said.

Strategic, a real estate investment trust based in Chicago, owns 17 luxury hotels including the Fairmont Chicago, the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco and the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C. Megan Hakes, a spokeswoman for Strategic Hotels, declined to comment. A representative from Jumeirah could not be reached for comment.

The 44-story hotel, built in 1929, was called the Park Tower, then renamed the Seville Towers. It became the Essex House in 1931, according to the hotel's website, and was one of the first hotels in New York City to offer Sunday Bunch, starting in the 1930s.

Composer Igor Stravinsky, who died in 1971, lived the last few years of his life at the Essex House. In 1979 rhythm and blues singer Donny Hathaway, 33, plunged to his death from a 15th floor room. Six years earlier, he and Roberta Flack won a Grammy Award for their duet "Where is the Love".

Strategic shares closed down 3.5 percent, or 21 cents, at $5.76 on Tuesday. The company's shares reached a 12-month high of $7.01 in May.