Source AP ©

New York Public Library to sell its branch for hotel

Patrons of a new hotel will not have to go far for a book.

The New York Public Library is selling its branch in midtown Manhattan, across the street from the Museum of Modern Art, to Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. and plans to share space in a new building with the luxury hotel.

Under the agreement, the five-story Donnell Library on West 53rd Street will be razed and replaced with an 11-story building, the hotelier and the library announced Wednesday. Construction is set to begin in 2009 and be completed in 2011.

The library will receive $59 million (40 million EUR) in cash and will own and occupy the first floor and two floors below ground of the new building. The library and the 150-room hotel will have separate entrances.

This will not be the first mixed-use arrangement for a New York Public Library facility. A branch in the downtown neighborhood of Soho is housed in a residential building and another in Morningside Heights shares space with a Columbia University dorm.

Five floors of the hotel, where rooms will go for $750 (509 EUR) to $2,000 (1,359 EUR) a night, will connect to the celebrated 21 Club on 52nd Street, a former speakeasy in a four-story townhouse.

Orient-Express, which owns the club, plans to market the new hotel under the 21 brand name.