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Permits Filed: 38-46 West 33rd Street

38-46 West 33rd Street38-46 West 33rd Street, image via Google Maps

Seven years ago, Hersel Torkian’s ABH Realty Corp. picked up an ICON parking garage at 38-46 West 33rd Street, just to the southeast of Herald Square.

And this morning, permits for action were finally submitted, when the Stephen B. Jacobs Group filed plans to build a 35-story residential tower. The building would hold a bit over 220,000 square feet of space, with 202 apartments divided across 170,000 square feet of net residential space. The remainder of the structure would be filled by a small 4,300-square foot retail space, plus a 40-car garage and common and mechanical space.

In this market, a new residential tower in Manhattan would normally default to condos, but there are a number of factors that make rentals a possibility for this particular site (Torkian has not yet responded to our request for comment).

The first is the average unit size – at 840 square feet, it could go either way, but many condo projects have much larger apartments. The second is the location, which is in a very touristy area not known for its luxury condos, between Herald Square and Fifth Avenue, and practically across the street from the back of the Empire State Building. And finally, ABH picked up the site years before rising land values made condos the only viable form of development in many Manhattan neighborhoods.

The bulk of the site is made up of two pre-war buildings that have been converted into an odd, mixed-floor-height parking structure, at No. 38-46. For this parcel, ABH paid $30 million in 2007, or a bit over $300 per developable square foot. The air rights above Rick’s Cabaret set the developer back $13.2 million, plus another $1.65 million for the rights above the storefront next door (the two less-than-boutique retail tenants also hinting at rentals), bringing the average price paid for all of the air rights down below $260 a foot.

Per the application, the tower will reach 385 feet into the air – dwarfed by the Empire State Building, erected before the modern zoning regime, but 38-46 West 33rd Street will still be fairly prominent in an area which doesn’t (yet) have the dense skyscraper thicket found farther uptown.

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