But after four decades as the city’s nicest motel for shtupping, the 3-story, 6,735-square-foot building at 500 W. 14th St. is looking for a buyer.
The building is mostly unassuming, well-maintained and discreet. Its owners expect it to sell in the mid-$20 million range, according to B6 Real Estate, the brokerage marketing the property. Current zoning laws would allow developers to build up to 11,225 square feet on the site—nearly double the size of the current hotel.
Despite its tawdry history, the hotel has received relatively good online reviews highlighting its cleanliness and attention to detail. The inn offers in-room televisions showing free porn from the 1970s “that encourages debauchery”; vending machines with condoms, drinks and snacks; as well as mirrored ceilings and fluorescent lights, making it “a great place for afternoon whoopee,” Yelp reviewers said.
The hotel is still accepting guests. But once it’s sold, it will shutter forever.
Rooms start at $95 for two hours, depending on the amenities you’re looking for. An overnight stay will run you $200.
Its current owner, Edward Raboy and his wife, took over management of the hotel in 1977, when the now-ultra-chic Meatpacking District was one of the most rundown neighborhoods in Manhattan.
Derelict buildings and worn streets were home to slaughterhouses and meat-packaging plants that at one point in the 20th century produced one-third of the country’s butchered meats. In 1900 the district had 250 meat-processing facilities.
By the 1970s it also had a thriving gay club scene. From 1974 to 1985, the base of the hotel housed a gay BDSM sex club called The Anvil that was said to be a favorite of Freddie Mercury; other notable clubs in the area surrounded it.
Raboy discovered that most of the hotel’s demand during that period was from people who only needed a room for a couple of hours, and so he leaned in to that, he said in an interview with The Whitney Museum. An email seeking comment Crain’s Sent to the hotel bounced back.
Today, the building’s surroundings have completely transformed. The hotel is sandwiched between fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg’s 14th Street boutique and a $260 million public park she funded with her husband, Little Island. A Tesla dealership and Google’s Hudson Square campus are nearby.
Down the street, a latte at Kobrick Coffee Co. costs $6, while trendy restaurants and hotels have made use of the formerly dilapidated buildings. Apartments in the area command some of the highest rents in the city.
All the while, the Liberty Inn has stuck to its roots.
The hotel’s decision to sell is bittersweet for Jeffrey LeFrancois, executive director of the Meatpacking Business Improvement District. “For a lot of folks, that this hotel is still there is a pleasant surprise,” he said. “It’s not entirely surprising that it’s now on the market.”
The partners that own the building have simply decided to move on, said their broker, Brock Emmetsberger, but not because business is bad. “From speaking with management, it seems to be doing just fine right now,” he said.
As for what will become of the building, it is currently zoned as M1-5, meaning it can be used for retail, hospitality or hotel purposes.
As it stands, it’s one of the rare glimpses of a Meatpacking District few New Yorkers seem to recognize.
“I love that the Liberty Inn is still around despite the “clean-up” of the Meatpacking District,” Rose F. wrote in a review. She said she used to bring her boyfriends there to avoid sleeping with them in her family’s apartment.
“Maybe I’ll bring my husband there sometime, for old times’ sake.”
She better get moving.