October 24, 2021

For $79M You Can Contact the Clouds within the Spire of the Woolworth Constructing

7 min read


An condominium is obtainable in New York proper now which is not like every other property within the metropolis, the nation, and sure the world. It fills the topmost flooring of the Woolworth Constructing, that iconic decrease Manhattan landmark which opened in 1913 because the headquarters of a sprawling low cost retail chain. “The Pinnacle,” because it’s being marketed, is obtainable at $79 million, and consists of 4 full flooring throughout the tower’s pyramidal spire in addition to a mezzanine and 360-degree open-air terrace on the constructing’s tip. Views spill outward endlessly in each course from dozens of home windows, filling the area with mild. There’s a silence there, to date above town’s streets, and the creativeness hums on the considered calling such a spot “house.”

There’s one catch: The condominium is unfinished. It’s ground after ground of cavernous risk, tied collectively by a non-public elevator and a dozen naked metal beams. A dizzying spiral staircase leads from the higher dwelling area to the cupola terrace and its breath-taking views. Any potential purchaser ought to include each a imaginative and prescient and the funds to execute it.

Courtesy Alyssa Maltese Optimist Consulting

The Woolworth Constructing opened in April of 1913, at a time when Individuals had been starting to query their religion in unbridled progress and know-how. Main architects and politicians debated whether or not skyscrapers ought to be allowed in cities in any respect, calling them hearth traps, eyesores, and a menace to public well being. Through the tower’s development, the Triangle Shirtwaist Manufacturing facility burned close to Washington Sq., killing 146. And the subsequent yr, the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic sank within the North Atlantic, carrying greater than 1,500 passengers with it. New Yorkers ventured into the long run with justified trepidation.

Regardless of this, the Woolworth Constructing climbed ever upward from decrease Broadway. New Yorkers watched in awe as its metal skeleton rose above Metropolis Corridor Park, 55 tales of metal anchored in Manhattan bedrock. Its design was meant to encourage confidence in modernity. Its facade, by far essentially the most in depth use of terra cotta in architectural historical past, was lauded as each a creative achievement and as utterly fireproof. On completion, it was the tallest constructing on this planet, a title it will maintain till the 1930 topping-out of the Chrysler Constructing.

For its grand opening celebration, a black-tie banquet was held on the tower’s twenty seventh ground, attended by 900 distinguished company. As they dined to the tunes of an orchestra, President Woodrow Wilson pressed a button on the White Home which illuminated the entire tower’s 80,000 mild bulbs directly. “A skyscraper constructed by the nickels of tens of millions,” as The New York Occasions described it, the Woolworth Constructing was constructed to function the headquarters for the five-and-dime retail empire of Frank Winfield Woolworth. It heralded a brand new period of boldness and modernity each for New York and the nation as a complete.

Frank W. Woolworth was born in 1852, the son of a poor farmer in upstate New York. He left house at age 21 to apprentice as a shopkeeper and shortly fashioned “the Woolworth Thought”: that it’s human nature to need one thing for nothing. He believed that he might revenue by promoting the next quantity of products at a lower cost than different shops might make by promoting a decrease quantity at larger costs. His concept caught on by the top of the nineteenth century and endlessly remodeled the American retail panorama. By 1913, when the Woolworth Constructing opened in New York, there have been practically 600 Woolworth’s shops throughout the nation, drawing an estimated 2 million buyers every day. Frank Woolworth, the son of a poor farmer, was capable of pay for the tower in money.

Greater than a century after its opening, the Woolworth Constructing stays one among New York’s most iconic landmarks. Nicknamed “the Cathedral of Commerce” for its gothic detailing, it stands 792 ft tall. It was the tallest constructing on this planet for 17 years, solely eclipsed in 1930 with the completion of the 1,046-foot Chrysler Constructing. The F.W. Woolworth Firm stored its headquarters within the tower till 1997. That yr, Woolworth’s was pushed out of enterprise by a brand new technology of low cost retailers comparable to Wal-Mart, which emerged within the twentieth century as big-box emulations of the Woolworth five-and-dime.

“To at the present time,” stated TIME in 2013, “the Woolworth one way or the other manages to evince the gravitas of a church and the playfulness, and the irreverence, of a kid’s fantasy fort.” That feeling of profound exuberance was fastidiously revered through the constructing’s current transformation right into a sky-high residential enclave. The residential foyer is tucked away at 2 Park Place, across the nook from the tower’s fundamental Broadway entrance. It’s solely new-construction, boasting intricate bronze panels surmounted by the Gothic Woolworth “W” utilized by Cass Gilbert all through the unique components of the constructing.

On a current tour of the Woolworth Constructing’s flats, I used to be accompanied by Kenneth Horn, founder and president of Alchemy Properties (the venture’s developer) and Stan Ponte, gross sales director and senior world actual property advisor for Sotheby’s Worldwide Realty. They famous the care taken, the expense required, and the numerous difficulties encountered whereas remodeling century-old workplace area into million-dollar houses.

The foyer is small however lush, with gleaming marble flooring, and its ceiling options 9 unique plaster panels from Frank Woolworth’s workplace. We took an elevator which, just like the foyer’s entryway, options the Gothic Woolworth “W,” and we descended to the basement. Right here, tenants have entry to numerous facilities, together with particular person locking wine closets in a room chilled to 54F and a marble-lined swimming pool which is unique to the constructing’s 1913 opening and was utilized by Mr. Woolworth himself. All of it feels quiet and unpretentiously unique, like a luxe clubhouse or boutique lodge. There are, in spite of everything, simply 33 flats within the constructing, with costs beginning close to $6 million.

Constructing such luxurious into the basement of an workplace constructing was no small feat. When work started, the lights didn’t work and the pool hadn’t been utilized in half a century. It was pitch black and coated in many years of mud and particles. Upstairs, rooftop air con models blocked views, and lots of rooms lacked home windows altogether. Literal tons of previous drywall, plaster, and terracotta needed to be chiseled away earlier than development might start. Exterior, Alchemy Properties invested $22 million into restoring the tower’s terracotta cladding. All that work, from demolition to set up and furnishing, needed to be dealt with by two inside passenger elevators in order to not disturb the industrial trunk of the tower’s decrease flooring.

Inside, the residences had been outfitted with beautiful finishes designed by Thierry Despont, who is maybe higher recognized for his restoration work on the Ritz Paris and Carlyle Motels, in addition to the Statue of Liberty. The residential portion of the Woolworth Constructing begins on the twenty ninth ground, the place two “Pavilion” residences function double-height dwelling rooms and terraces that are bigger than most entire flats. We first visited Pavilion A, which spans greater than 6,000 sq. ft not together with its 2,770 sq. foot terrace. It’s supplied at just below $26 million and is, apart from the Pinnacle unit, the final unsold condominium within the tower. (A 3rd unit is in contract as of this writing.) It’s at the moment staged for consumers, furnished in impartial tones with Baccarat chandeliers glowing in each room.

Most different new luxurious buildings function floor-to-ceiling partitions of glass, promoting the countless views as a part of the attraction. The Woolworth, removed from missing such views, frames them via home windows that are, as a rule, unique to Cass Gilbert’s design. Pointed Gothic dormers harmonize with a powerful array of newly-cut image home windows and skylights, all of which had been authorised by town’s Landmarks Preservation Fee earlier than development. The result’s a extra furtive strategy to the spectacular vistas afforded by the tower’s top; the skyline shifts from room to room, complementing residents’ furnishings, wallpaper, or art work. A skylight above the kitchen in Pavilion A seems straight up at The Woolworth’s spire. “We wish residents to know they’re someplace particular,” stated Mr. Ponte.

My time at The Woolworth concluded with a go to to “The Pinnacle,” the penthouse advanced which begins on the tower’s fiftieth ground. After touring the condominium’s many cavernous rooms, attempting to think about the way it may look as soon as somebody finishes it, I climbed the spiral stairs to the cupola. I felt a real thrill in stepping out onto the slim, octagonal terrace, with all of New York twinkling beneath me. A century in the past, Frank Woolworth seemingly stood there, as awed by the view as I used to be. His awe should’ve been bolstered by the information that he owned the picket planks beneath his ft, and that this view was the results of his life’s work. Now, another New Yorker has the chance to really feel that very same sense of possession, standing atop town and feeling as awed and impressed by it tomorrow as a century in the past.



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