View Full Version : Why do 1-story buildings exist in midtown Manhattan?

August 3rd, 2003, 02:24 AM
On another thread, I saw this picture (below) of the Times Square Tower construction - view from Avenue of the Americas - and I couldn't help but notice these little 1-story buildings (like the Dunkin Donuts).

Isn't it just a massively inefficient use of space to have little 1-story buildings in the middle of Manhattan?


August 3rd, 2003, 07:56 AM
I could be mistaken, but that particular block is the one that will soon be a Bank of America tower.

IMO, they're a nice antithesis to all the scrapers. It would be nice to see some more, however. ;)

August 3rd, 2003, 06:41 PM
What's really surprising is that many of these buidings are occupied by McDonalds... makes it seem even less efficient...

August 3rd, 2003, 09:48 PM
Normaldude, no offense, but you have a lot to learn about NYC real estate. *You sure picked a doosie for your example, too. *There's a thread on "holdouts" somewhere on this forum. *start there, check it out.

August 4th, 2003, 10:17 AM
Forget one story buildings. Talk about vacant lots.

Freedom Tower
August 4th, 2003, 11:15 AM
Hey, stockton, I searched for "holdouts" but couldn't find anything. Sorry, but can you please link me to it? I was interested in why 1 story buildings are part of NYC Real Estate. Thanks

August 4th, 2003, 12:02 PM

The site you photographed has one-story buildings on it because of an epic decades-long saga between two powerful NYC Real Estate dynasties:

When you do a search, make sure you search in both the topic titles and the posts.

Freedom Tower
August 4th, 2003, 03:05 PM
Ahh, thats what I did wrong. Thanks for the tip and the link stockton.

August 10th, 2003, 05:57 PM
Those one story buildings are also part of what prevents dark canyons (sometimes). Canyons are nice for city feel, but to the occupants of the buildings and the pedestrian they can be a bit depressing.

August 13th, 2003, 05:50 PM
Land/building owners can sell the air-rights about their buildings if they are less than what is maximum allowed by law.

Whe you say "holdout" are you referring to this, or simply that the property owner won't sell for development?

TLOZ Link5
August 13th, 2003, 07:53 PM
The latter, which isn't as simple as you may infer. *The owner of a property who refuses to sell can effectively jeopardize the development of a building as it was originally planned. *In cases like this the developers either fold, or go back to the drawing board to improvise their design. *The Bertelsmann Building and Macy's can be considered cases in point.

August 14th, 2003, 08:43 AM
Quote: from TLOZ Link5
The latter, which isn't as simple as you may infer. *The owner of a property who refuses to sell can effectively jeopardize the development of a building as it was originally planned. *

Thanks for clarifying. I guess the air rights is a separate, but also interesting issue, like the case of the Trump World Tower by the UN. :-)

In the Macy's case, that corner property probably did the right thing by holding out - it's far more valuable now than ever from the owner's POV. I'm sure Macy's hated them, but that's the way it goes.

August 14th, 2003, 11:33 AM
I think the story was that it was held by a rival dept. store. *Often these holdouts are stubborn rival tycoons.

August 14th, 2003, 02:27 PM
Quote: from Jo on 8:43 am on Aug. 14, 2003
Thanks for clarifying. I guess the air rights is a separate, but also interesting issue, like the case of the Trump World Tower by the UN. :-)

In the Macy's case, that corner property probably did the right thing by holding out - it's far more valuable now than ever from the owner's POV. I'm sure Macy's hated them, but that's the way it goes.
I disagree. *The only function that holdout now serves is a billpost, with a bit of retail in the ground floor. *The building will never be anything bigger than an ancient lowrise.

August 15th, 2003, 12:29 PM
There is a great book on the topic of holdouts--"New York's Architectural Holdouts",by Andrew Alpern/Seymour Durst.(Yep,THAT Seymour Durst).
It's a bit dated now(P:1984 ,with a foreward by John Lindsay),but it has some great photos of little buildings interfering with the construction of new ones.
The entire history of the Macy's debacle is told,with a lot of period photos of Herald Sq.There are some other good stories,too.
I got it at the MOMA Bookstore on E 53rd before the Museum went to Queens.

August 21st, 2003, 08:22 PM
Yeah, I heard those 1-storey buildings on 6th & 42nd were going to be demolished sometime in 2004 to make way for a 55-storey tower (One Bryant Park). But, I haven't heard anything for over a year.

January 17th, 2006, 01:51 PM
That one story in the pic is history......Welcome Bank of America Tower.

Remember - one stories (and two stories) are called tax payers for a reason - the idea being that they will be replaced at a later date with a bigger building. The one story is there just to pay the taxes, hence the name. Of course, they make the owner money too

January 19th, 2006, 02:45 PM
Does mean that also the Dunkin Donut in the pic has been demolished?

January 19th, 2006, 02:48 PM
^ Gone

January 24th, 2013, 05:56 AM
Suggestion to mods: Combine this thread with the These guys did not want to sell - New York Holdouts (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3479) thread and rename accordingly?

New York’s holdouts: Old buildings that never sold out to new developers have a fighting chance to survive

Author Andrew Alpern wrote about 50 'holdouts' — buildings that didn't sell to developers and remain trapped by new developments — in his 1984 book 'Holdouts!' But about 10 have since disappeared for various reasons. While the exact number of 'holdouts' in the city is unclear, real estate observers and historians say zoning laws and historic designations can help the buildings to hang on.

By Erik Ortiz

Bryan Smith/for New York Daily News
A holdout building at 58 W. 36th St. is sandwiched between two new hotels that are expected to
open this year. The five-story apartment with ground-floor retail dates back to at least 1912.

Lost amid New York’s soaring skyline are a handful of architectural relics that are not just holding on — they’re holding out.

These buildings have yet to surrender to deep-pocketed developers — and may never sell out — leaving them sandwiched between new high-rises on either side.

Historian and architect Andrew Alpern documented about 50 bygone-era buildings in Manhattan in his 1984 book “Holdouts!” They’ve been on the decline since, with 10 knocked down or built over, he said.

But admirers of the holdouts can take comfort in knowing that they’ve got a better chance of surviving today thanks to a complicated real estate market and ever-changing housing and zoning rules.

“And when a holdout remains a holdout it has likely lost its opportunity (to sell),” Alpern said. “These newer buildings will eventually go up around them — and they can no longer command a price.”

Esther Crain
Gothic-inspired townhouse on the upper West Side is flanked by massive pre-war apartment buildings

The jarring split of new and old New York can be found today in a neighborhood that’s rife with commercial properties: the Garment District. Two hotels — a 25-story Hyatt Place and an 18-story Holiday Inn Express — are set to open on 36th Street between fifth and sixth avenues.

Yet nestled between them is a faded, five-story apartment building at 58 W. 36th St. that dates back to at least 1912, permit records show. The odd-looking arrangement garners curious glances.

“My friends will come over and they definitely see what’s happened,” said Kurt Nelson, 47, a tenant since 1997. “But I like this. It’s history. It’s nostalgia. You don’t have to change everything.”

Kurt Nelson
Before new hotels went up on both sides of 58 W. 36th St. in the Garment District over the
past year, pedestrians had an unencumbered view of the Empire State Building.

While Nelson likes the new restaurants that have opened on his block in just the past few months, his breathtaking view of the Empire State Building has vanished.

Scaffolding, dust and noisy jackhammers were normal on the street last year — and are sure to return as yet another hotel is planned on the block to replace a row of four low-rise properties.

The Holiday Inn used to be a commercial building, while the Hyatt replaced a four-story parking garage.

Despite the frenzy of activity on the block, Nelson’s digs don’t appear to be going anywhere — at least not in the foreseeable future. Ben Reyhanian, representing the apartment building’s owner, said there was no plan to sell. Reyhanian said the building’s air rights were already sold to neighboring property owners 10 years ago at about $170 a foot.

Meanwhile, the apartments are rent-stabilized, so selling off the property would be difficult anyway. Such conditions, however, ensure these older buildings aren’t easily sold and ripped down, said Darren Sukenik, managing director of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman.

Plus pockets of neighborhoods such as Tribeca and the West Village have been zoned “historic,” further guaranteeing the older buildings’ preservation.

There are also instances when the property owner just doesn’t want to cede to a private developer. That was the case with a tenement at 33 W. 63rd St., where a cagey colonel named Jehiel Elyachar had the opportunity to sell in the late 1960s to a developer, but never went through with the deal.

That forced the developer to eventually build around the property near Lincoln Center, leaving a massive apartment tower on the block to nearly swallow Elyachar’s five-story building.

“For some of these buildings owners, they’ve been a little nobody all their lives, and now there’s an opportunity to be a celebrity,” Alpern said. “They don’t care what happens. They just like the idea that it’s happening in the limelight.”

Esther Crain
On Eighth Avenue around 40th Street, a squat three-story building with a porn shop on the
ground floor is wedged in between much larger structures.

But Esther Crain, who has documented some of the city’s holdouts on her blog Ephemeral New York (http://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/), said she’s surprised there would be any still standing in midtown.

“With midtown real estate so scarce, you expect that a developer would have been able to dangle such a high price to the owner of the older building, he or she wouldn’t have been able to resist,” Crain said. “But luckily, not every piece of land in New York is for sale.”

Among her favorite holdouts, she said, are a former two-story stable in Chelsea that “looks like it’s about to collapse” between two loft buildings, and a skinny, white three-story brownstone on Lexington Avenue in the 50s that resembles a “little placeholder.”

Esther Crain
The tiny building dwarfed by Macy’s on the corner of 34th Street and Broadway is perhaps the first
'holdout' in the city. The building that stands there today is not part of the iconic department store and
was built in 1903, replacing a previous building. Macy's was never able to acquire it.

Perhaps New York’s most famous holdout is in Herald Square, where a five-story building, built in 1903, sits on the corner of Broadway and 34th Street on the same block as Macy’s. But the building is barely noticeable on its own.

“The owner wouldn’t sell despite repeated offers,” Crain said. “They hide the fact that it’s not actually owned by Macy’s by putting a big Macy’s sign over it!”

While Crain appreciates how the city is evolving, she can’t help but cheer on the “little guy,” she said.

“I smile every time I come across a holdout building because they remind us of another New York, when smaller-scale buildings dominated the streets,” she added. “Plus, they’re underdogs, and it’s hard not to root for the underdog.”


Andrew Alpern's book:


March 12th, 2013, 07:10 AM


Sign on building on the right:

On this site will be erected a 32-story luxury apartment building after the demise of the old lady.

March 12th, 2013, 03:53 PM
Sounds like a sign Trump would put up.

March 12th, 2013, 04:29 PM
The king of the hold outs:


And don't forget that this:


Is behind this abomination of a sign:


March 12th, 2013, 05:17 PM
I always thought the building on the corner of 200 Water St was a hell of a hold out. There's a fancypants new Starbucks in there. I remember drinking warm bud lights at the Hook and Ladder upstairs. Rockrose tried to get Grimaldis in there years ago, but that fell through. Hmm. streetview: http://goo.gl/maps/G0nr6

I suppose that's not midtown, though, huh?

April 9th, 2013, 05:11 AM
The Two Little Townhouses That Refused to Sell to Rockefeller

by Jessica Dailey

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/8625139245_ba21b7e826_o-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/8625139245_ba21b7e826_o.jpg)

While Atlantic Yards holdout Daniel Goldstein put up a pretty epic fight against Bruce Ratner's megaproject (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/atlantic-yards), he won't go down in history as the most stubborn NYC property owner of all time. That designation should go to the two little townhouses that survived the city's original megaproject: Rockefeller Center. Nick Carr of Scouting NY (http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=6495) shares the history of the two buildings, which flank 30 Rockefeller Plaza along Sixth Avenue.

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/8625139705_66420d2094_o-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/8625139705_66420d2094_o.jpg)

The grey house at 1240 Sixth Avenue, where Magnolia Bakery now operates, was owned by three Irishmen who ran a pub. When Rockefeller started buying up land to build his skyscrapers, the men announced they would only leave if they were paid $250 million—the original estimated construction cost of the entire Rockefeller Center.


http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/8625140461_c209b735bb_o-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/8625140461_c209b735bb_o.jpg)

The house at 1258 Sixth Avenue also refused to sell, and thus Rockefeller Center rose up beside them. The buildings are easily missed among Midtown's towering buildings, but they should serve as a hopeful reminder to all anti-developer Nimby holdouts: sometimes David beats Goliath.

The Little Townhouse In The Shadow Of 30 Rock (http://www.scoutingny.com/?p=6495) [Scouting NY]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/04/08/the_two_little_townhouses_that_refused_to_sell_to_ rockefeller.php

April 9th, 2013, 02:56 PM
pj clarkes

April 9th, 2013, 02:58 PM
what was reidy's restaurant at 520 madison