The epic conversion of One Wall Street from offices to luxury condos poses a big risk for developer Harry Macklowe, who’s invested $1.5 billion in the landmarked former Irving Bank tower with plans to sell 565 apartments later this year.
But there’s also a lot at stake for Downtown Manhattan.
Downtown Alliance president Jessica Lappin calls the location at Broadway and Wall Street the Financial District “crossroads.” But the historic area is itself at a crossroads as it struggles to recover from the flight that took place during the pandemic — dooming retail magnet Century 21 as both residents and office workers fled.
The success of Macklowe’s 90-year-old, 50 story Art Deco masterpiece — which stands at FiDi’s almost exact center between the East and Hudson rivers — will serve as a bellwether for the district, where some 1,433 condo units remain unsold — the most in any Manhattan neighborhood.
Failure would cast a pall. But if the dauntless developer — who sold out the pricey 432 Park Avenue along Billionaire Row despite widespread skepticism — can move One Wall’s 566 apartments, it would signal a residential resurgence for an area that had a reputation for catering more to office workers than its growing number of families.
“It will transform this central business district,” said market analyst Jonathan Miller. “Downtown saw a lot of residential rental activity over the past decade, but a sellout at One Wall Street would cement a more recent trend of morphing into a more permanent-residency district.”
Miller noted it could take time given Manhattan’s overall surplus of 15,000 new condo units, which began to swell even before the pandemic.
“The scale of One Wall Street is so vast that the absorption period could take a long time,” Miller said.
National Condo Advisors CEO Orest Tomaselli agreed. “It’s absolutely going to be a challenge selling all those units,” he told Bloomberg Wealth.
Of course, no challenge ever deterred Macklowe, 84, who plunked down $588 million to buy One Wall seven years ago and who has personally “contributed significant design elements” reflecting his taste for clean Modernism.
The end result will boast “an architectural, honest distinction, the way I did it at 432 Park and the Apple cube at the GM Building,” he said of his past projects.
“The world and the city were obviously very different in 2014,” Macklowe acknowledged to The Post.
“But do you want to know if I’m concerned about a plethora of apartments? Absolutely not.”
“We’re extremely well capitalized. We have low debt. There’s no pressure that we’re compelled to sell.”
He added, “We stand alone in the luxury market. We’re not competing with $1,000 per square-foot apartments [which comprise the bulk of nearby unsold units]. We’re around $2,500 psf at One Wall,” where prices range from $1.475 million for a one-bedroom to approximately $15 million for an eye-popping triplex penthouse.
Macklowe likened the contemporary homes built within the tower’s near-century-old limestone envelope to “a museum retrospective.”
“This building is like peeling an onion,” Macklowe said. “From outside, you don’t know what’s happening. But as you go into it, you see more and more. Our design is reverent to the architecture and fits in with dignity.”
Units were designed by a team led by SLCE Architects. And apartments are spread through two adjacent, adjoined structures: the landmarked One Wall and a 1963-vintage, 38-story annex on the south side.
A five-story addition on top of the annex contains part of a 100,000 square-foot “One Club” for residents that includes a 75-foot long swimming pool with wraparound windows.
On a recent tour, we saw Italian-crafted kitchens with Miele appliances, marble and stone bathrooms and 10-foot ceiling heights. Views ranged from awesome skyline and harbor vistas to intimate peeks into the NYSE. Tiered tower setbacks enabled private outdoor space in many units.
One Wall Street will also bring much-needed new retail to the area. Lifetime Fitness is opening a 72,760 square-foot “athletic resort” in the tower’s base in 2022. Whole Foods will launch a 46,529 square-foot store on the Broadway side later this year.
Alliance president Lappin called the mammoth market “a game-changer, especially for Broadway,” where restaurants and food stores are few.
Some 55,4000 square feet of retail space have yet to be leased. They include the “Red Room,” a former banking hall drenched in Deco splendor, including a 33 foot-high ceiling covered in 13,000 square feet of multicolor mosaic tiles.
Compass Development Marketing Group is the exclusive sales agent. Sales are to launch in the fall with the first closings expected by the end of the year.
Macklowe claims an emotional connection to the property. “I was a depositor at Irving Trust [uptown] when I was young,” he said. “I always admired the building. I saw a few executive dining rooms for lunches and meetings and they were spectacular.
“When [CBRE investment-sale broker] Darcy [Stacom] offered it on the market, I thought, how often do you get a chance to buy next to the New York Stock Exchange and Trinity Church?”
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