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No Toys, but a Park Nearby


From The New York Times:

No Toys, but a Park Nearby

If only New Yorkers knew what all those toy marketers must have known — that the Toy Building North has some of the best views of the city’s most striking buildings — it might have become residential long ago.

Now to be called 10 Madison Square West, the former 16-story Toy Building North, which is on the west side of Madison Square Park at 24th Street, is being converted to 125 condominiums that will go on the market this month. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of next year.

The building, at 1107 Broadway, was once part of the International Toy Center, attached by a ninth-floor pedestrian bridge over 24th Street to its neighbor to the south, 200 Fifth Avenue, for a total of 1 million square feet of toy showrooms. The larger building at 200 Fifth Avenue is still an office building, although it also houses the massive Italian food emporium Eataly. The sky bridge is no longer used and will most likely be demolished.

The Witkoff Group acquired the nearly 380,000-square-foot former toy showroom building at auction in 2011 for about $190 million and will spend about $300 million renovating it; the developer recently began marketing the building in earnest.

“We originally came in thinking we were going to look at it as an office property,” said Steven C. Witkoff, the chairman and chief executive of the Witkoff Group. But after entering the building and seeing views of the Flatiron Building, the New York Life Building with its gold pyramid roof, and the MetLife Clock Tower that “not many people have had the opportunity to do, it was just clear” that residential condos were the way to go, he said.

Previous developers had experimented with visions of taking the former Toy Building North and making eye candy for big kids with blocky condo additions. Starting in 2005, two groups tried condo conversions, the first one running up against entrenched business tenants. The building has been virtually vacant, its interiors gutted, since 2007, when the economy began suffering and a development partnership including Tessler Developments bought it in a failed attempt to create about 190 units.

But the Witkoff Group, which demolished a 40,000-square-foot portion of the building on the northwestern side of its horseshoe-shaped structure, will add that square footage to the top in a fairly streamlined six-story addition dovetailing with the original structure’s design. The demolished section, hemmed in by 12-story buildings, never offered much in the way of views, but the developers will turn the now-cleared space into a private courtyard for residents.

There will be one- to five-bedroom apartments at 10 Madison Square West, according to Douglas Elliman Development Marketing; the bulk will be three-bedrooms. Prices will start around $1 million, for a one-bedroom, and exceed $25 million for the five-bedroom penthouse.

The addition will contain 14 large units being called “tower residences,” many with terraces, said Susan M. de França, the president and chief executive of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing.

The developer is retaining many of the same window openings but will be enlarging windows in rooms at the corners; it has designed larger windows in the tower as well. Residences at the conjunction of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 24th Street will have living rooms with three-way panoramic views, said Scott Alper, a principal of Witkoff.

Besides a new lobby and concierge desk, the building will have 10,000 square feet of amenity space on a lower level that will be reached from a grand staircase in the lobby. This will include a 60-foot swimming pool and a hot tub; locker rooms for men and women, each with steam and sauna; a 2,000-square-foot fitness center; and a separate Pilates studio, all programmed by the Wright Fit, Ms. de França said. There will also be a children’s play-and-party space with kitchen, along with a spa-treatment room.

The interior designer is Alan Wanzenberg, the founder of Alan Wanzenberg Architect and Design, which worked with the Witkoff Group on its development at 150 Charles Street. Mr. Wanzenberg said he intended to bring the same classic design sense to 10 Madison Square West, using materials like bianco Carrara marble tile, large-format white porcelain tile, wide-plank oak and reclaimed cedar.

Mr. Witkoff, who is largely envisioning families for the units, said he was optimistic about the project because of the building’s central location in Manhattan and proximity to Madison Square Park, which has undergone a renaissance in the last decade.

“What the Madison Square Park Conservancy has done with that park is nothing short of extraordinary,” he said. “It’s really upped the ante for a lot of the properties right there. People want to live there.”

A competing glass tower nearby, One Madison, at 23 East 22nd Street, similarly went through a succession of owners; it will now be marketed by the Related Companies. Mr. Witkoff said pricing at 10 Madison Square Park would start out modestly.“We believe in pricing that creates a lot of interest,” he said, “and we bought the property well, and we can afford to do it that way, so we intend to do that.” The Toy Building North has always been unassuming. Though one of its two designers was William Van Alen, who went on to design the Chrysler Building, this one has almost been more noteworthy for what it replaced — two distinguished hotels — than the office building itself.

A version of this article appears in print on June 2, 2013, on page RE1 of the New York edition with the headline: No Toys, but a Park Nearby.

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