It's time for this potential 1,000 footer to have its own thread!
May 16, 2011, 2:39 pm Once a Bustling Automobile Row Anchor, Now Empty
By JAMES BARRON
Robert Caplin for The New York Times
1780 Broadway, the former B.F. Goodrich buildingIt was a dignified mainstay of Automobile Row, the line of glittery showrooms and automobile-related offices that stretched up Broadway from the West 50s to somewhere north of Columbus Circle. Its tire-company name lingered when new tenants moved in, among them a studio where stars like Duke Ellington made recordings.
Now the former B.F. Goodrich building at 1780 Broadway is empty.
The last retail tenant, a shoe store, closed last month. The other first-floor store, Columbus Circle Wines and Spirits, had moved a few blocks away, to 1802 Broadway, near Central Park South, when its lease expired at the end of 2007.
“We were one of the first to leave,” said Laurent Cherrier, a manager of the store. “I believe we were told it was going to be torn down and they were going to build condos, but it was more of a rumor than anything official.”
By 2009, when the city Landmarks Preservation Commission gave landmark status to 1780 Broadway, the Extell Development Corporation was said to be planning a 50-story hotel with apartments or offices for the adjacent site at 225 West 57th Street, the site of a building that was connected to 1780 Broadway.
The Municipal Art Society testified in favor of designating both buildings and said it was “particularly concerned about the fate of the 57th Street facade.” But Extell warned that a landmark designation on the 57th Street building would endanger the project, and the landmarks commission decided not to give the 57th Street building landmark status, only 1780 Broadway.
The commission voted after four City Council members indicated they might overturn a landmark designation on the 57th Street building, saying they did not want to jeopardize the planned hotel tower.
Extell, which is now building a $1.3 billion skyscraper a block away, on 57th Street opposite Carnegie Hall, says it expects to begin demolition of 225 West 57th Street in the next few weeks. As for what it plans to build on the site of No. 225, a spokesman said: “We are going over a gamut of possibilities including mixed use and residential. There is a wide range of possibilities.”
The buildings at 1780 Broadway at 225 West 57th Street opened to considerable fanfare in 1909. The trade publication The Automobile mentioned them in an article headlined “Handsome Additions to New York’s Automobile Row.” Goodrich bragged that “the ‘great white tread’ of the Goodrich tire is the big mileage tread of the ‘great white way’ and every other street and avenue in New York.”
Originally, Goodrich had a tire showroom on the first floor. On the 12th floor, where there is a balcony overlooking Broadway, were, as Goodrich put it, “the most complete automobile tire repair facilities in the United States.”
The two buildings were the work of Howard Van Doren Shaw, a prolific Chicago architect who had designed a house in Ohio for Goodrich’s president at the beginning of the 20th century. The landmarks commission noted that Shaw collaborated with the Manhattan firm of Waid & Willauer on the two Automobile Row buildings.
The Buildings Department said only that one permit had been issued for 1780 Broadway, back in 2007. It was for a “sidewalk shed,” the temporary structure necessary when exterior repairs are being done. The permit has been renewed until January of next year, a spokeswoman for the Buildings Department said.