He's In, He's Out, He's In Again
When we met Gregory Peck at his West Coast hotel, The Crescent Beverly Hills, he had just driven up from Palm Springs so we did what two East Coasters normally do when they meet up in Los Angeles--we bitched about the traffic and the heat.
But then we got down to another heated topic, what was his deal with Cooper Square? Was he in or was he out? His answer: Definitely in.
"Matt [Moss] and I are completely together on this project," Peck said. "We will be there to present it when it opens, and we'll do everything we can to make it successful. We're equal partners. Of course on a day to day basis, we'll be doing different things because we have different skills."
When pressed as to why he didn't speak out before, Peck said he found the issue to be "totally crazy" and not worth addressing.
We gave Matt Moss an opportunity to speak with us via the Cooper Square Hotel's pr rep Becca Parish but as of press time, Moss was "traveling." However, Parish confirmed the Peck-Moss partnership and Peck's involvement in Cooper Square saying,
Greg is one of the owners. He's involved on an ownership level."
There appears to be some cracks in the Peck-Moss relationship but whatever has transpired between the two Long Island friends, Cooper Square is still going up and certainly not coming down. (That was a construction mistake, Peck said.)
With the awkward questions about the Peck-Moss partnership behind us, we quizzed Peck about what matters to hotel-philes most--what's inside Cooper Square.
According to Peck, the Cooper Square Hotel which was designed by architect Carlos Zapata is set for an April/May 2008 opening. There will be 148 rooms, averaging about 320-square-feet. Fifteen percent of the rooms will be suites and the top floor of the hotel will be a Penthouse suite.
Also Peck anticipates a wireless check-in, but not the kind you do from a Blackberry. Instead a staffer will greet you in the lobby and having emailed with you before checking-in, will be able to show you right to your room. Thus there will be no physical front desk. However, a more traditional check-in, check-out experience will be available in a VIP-type of room just off the lobby.
As for the price point, Peck said room rates will range from $375 to $500. And Klaus Ortlieb (of THOR fame) will be the operator. Ortlieb is an excellent appointment as he successfully handled the THOR opening which faced similar community resistance. Feuding neighbors and hoteliers be damned, Klaus is the man to get this hotel off the ground.
Restaurants and Bars... and a Performance Venue?
Peck told us that there will be a partnership with the Table 8 group to open a restaurant on the hotel's ground floor. Peck actually stressed the word "partnership" and "not just signing a lease with someone." The restaurant will have an outdoor terrace and of course, a bar. A second bar will be in the hotel lobby and a third bar will be in the...wait for it...performance venue in the hotel basement.
Peck said the space will be about 2,000-square-feet and will feature an adult cabaret and live music. When we asked if it would be similar to hipster LES joint The Box, he replied,
"Well, it will be more like The Box than CBGB."
Even though Peck tried to move away from the dreaded "B-word", Cooper Square will be a boutique hotel. Still, Peck said the hotel will combine great architecture, great design, fun and exciting food and beverage with a level of service found in older established luxury hotels. When asked for a comparison, Peck was at first reluctant but then threw out this:
"It's like the Mercer meets the Four Seasons."
Residents of Cooper Square have protested this building from the start and about everything-- the design, the height, the fact that it will be a hotel, the noise, and the list goes on. According to neighborhood blogger Melissa Kirsch, someone was even worried about the fumes from all the taxis that will line up outside for hotel guests.
And a while back, an area resident wrote to HotelChatter saying they were forming: "a protest movement...our own newsgroup about it, clandestine flyers, public meetings, etc."
While he expressed empathy for the neighbors saying "no one likes change," Peck seemed frustrated at their perceptions of the end product.
"It's not going to be some crazy noisy club kids environment. The hotel is a great piece of architecture that was designed to be mature and elegant and I think it will be a benefit to the community. It can be a gathering place and a catalyst to bring people in to explore the neighborhood."
Peck also pointed out the garden/small park that will be open to the entire public, not just hotel guests a la Gramercy Park as previously reported.
In spite of the rumors about his non-involvement in Cooper Square and the vocal community dislike for the hotel, Peck is optimistic about opening what he believes will be one of the best new hotels in New York.
"It's been a huge struggle. Yet I didn't think this project would come together as magically as it has.
He's also got plans for the Crescent Hotel including possibly a spin-off of the brand, which we'll have more on this week. In the meantime, we're counting down the days to April 2008 when we can see the finished Cooper Square Hotel. And we fully intend to borrow the "Suri Cruise's first public appearance" countdown clock from US Weekly to do so.
Have your own opinions of Cooper Square either gushing or hateful? We want to keep the conversation going so leave your comments here.