“Limited Edition” Woolworth Building Debuts Luxury Condos

The upper floors of the historic Woolworth Building near City Hall have been rebuilt and repurposed as stately condos.

By Jeff Vasishta March 16, 2017

Part renovation, part restoration and part recreation, the landmarked neo-gothic Woolworth building in downtown Manhattan has been returned its former glory to create 33 luxury condominiums.

An investment group headed by developer Alchemy Properties bought the top 30 floors of the Woolworth Tower in 2012 for a reported $68 million. Over the next 14 months a team was assembled, including interior architect Thierry W. Despont, to create striking but stately apartments in what will be called the Woolworth Tower Residences. Construction commenced in 2014 and is due to finish by the end of 2017.

Related: Five Of The Coolest Condos Set To Hit The Manhattan Market This Spring

Credit: Travis Mark via Bloomberg

Being land marked, the building’s exterior, which features gargoyles, sculptural arches, and the delicate, multi-colored terra cotta tiles that were used to decorate buildings across New York in the early 20th century, had to kept or restored to its original state.

“Theoretically, we could have spent two or three million dollars fixing [the terra cotta],” Kenneth Horn, Alchemy’s president and founder told Bloomberg News. “But we’re spending $22 million.” Most of that money went on the intricate tiled decoration around each of the condo’s windows. Horn said that around 3400 new tiles were added.

Such attention to detail doesn’t come cheap and the condos will start at  $4.575 million for a 1,294-square-foot one-bedroom going to $26.4 million for a floor-through, 5,991-square-foot four-bedroom suite. “The Pinnacle” which comprises the top 7 stories will be priced for a yet undisclosed number — rumored to be in the region of an eye watering $110 million.

Credit: Travis Mark via Bloomberg

Completed in 1913, the building was commissioned by noted retail merchant F.W. Woolworth and designed by architect Cass Gilbert and was the tallest structure in the world until 1930. Gilbert also designed the U.S. Supreme Court Building among others.

Showroom apartments in the sales office a few blocks away are now complete and they seamlessly fuse the classic and contemporary — marble, parquet floors, oak finishes, elaborate moldings and baseboards with an open floor plan modern appliances.

“It’s a little risky,” Horn told Curbed. “We’re not doing sleek, modern kitchens; we’re doing things that are a little more stately.”  He told the NY Daily News: “Rather than taking this grande dame and making it modern, we wanted to maintain the grandeur and the character of the building. We knew that we wanted to restore this building correctly. Are the hard costs of this building more than we anticipated? Absolutely, yes.”

Credit: Travis Mark via Bloomberg

Despont took great pains to recreate and restore many of the building’s original hallmarks such as tiles that were in Frank Woolworth’s office, or a “W” motif created by the legendary interior architect and incorporated into the new residences. The famed Woolworth Pool has been restored and re-imagined using Gilbert’s own architectural drawings. In addition residents will have their own private lobby, separate from that of the Woolworth’s grand public lobby. A private, express elevator, will feature cars that were made using casts of the building’s original 1913 elevator cars — making it a readymade movie set if sales are slow.

In a softening market, weather there are enough buyers to part with the lofty price tag that comes with these impressive apartments remains to be seen. Of course, the sales team are undaunted, talking up a good game.

“The fact that it’s the Woolworth Building is a huge draw,” J.P. Forbes, who is heading sales at the building told the Daily News. ”It’s the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and the Woolworth Building. It’s limited edition.”

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.
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