No sooner did Extell Development file permits for a new 1,550-foot residential tower on the corner of 57th Street and Broadway then scaffolding started to go up around one of the final properties comprising Gary Barnett’s little west side assemblage that will be home to the city’s tallest tower. On Friday morning, The Observer happened to be out for a stroll on the crosstown boulevard when we noticed construction workers assembling a sidewalk shed, the first sign of construction commencement.
A source close to Extell confirms that demolition will soon begin on 1780 Broadway, a 12-story building that was once home to BF Goodrich. At the time, this corner of Gotham was known as Automobile Row during the Gilded Age. Because of an agreement with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the facade of 1780 Broadway must be retained as part of any new building, so this will presumably be a careful deconstruction.
When Gary Barnett builds, he wants everything to be “the best,” as the Extell exec made clear in our recent profile. Bigger is not always better, but it certainly does not hurt, especially in Manhattan. That is part of the appeal of Mr. Barnett’s One57—not only will the views be dead-center on Central Park, a fact Mr. Barnett keenly brags about, but there are also the bragging rights of having the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemisphere. At 1,005 feet, it beats Frank Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street by more than 100 feet.
But this is New York, and the record will never hold for long, as competitors like the MoMA tower and 432 Park start to rise. But Mr. Barnett has an ace up his sleeve just down the block, a large development site on Broadway running between 57th and 58th streets. The lot, site of the former B.F. Goodrich Building is nearly twice as large as One57′s, and more importantly the tower could be many hundred feet taller, as well, as Mr. Barnett continues to assemble air rights and properties, one of his favorite parts of the business.
For this stratospheric project he also turned to several top-shelf designers, none of whom Extell has ever worked with before.
Gary Barnett continues to bulldoze his way across the city. Just last week, his Extell Development unveiled plans for a new tower at Riverside South; found a partner for a stalled 50-story hotel near Times Square; and secured $700 million in financing from Abu Dhabi toward One57, the condo-hotel tower on West 57th Street that will be the tallest, and likely most expensive, when it is completed. As if that were not enough, the developer has begun work just down the block on another of its long-simmering projects.