Yet another supertall may soon begin construction on 57th Street; The New York Times reported that Vornado and LeFrak are about to begin demolition at 31 West 57th Street and two adjacent properties, which could yield a tower of significant size. Unfortunately, the development may begin with the demise of 29 West 57th Street, which is one of the few remaining pre-war buildings on 57th Street actually worthy of exterior preservation.
While there has been popular outrage against the impending demolition of Rizzoli — because it’s not like the book store would have closed soon, anyways — the real issue, which has seemingly been ignored, is that 29 West 57th also appears to be included in Vornado’s assemblage, which stretches from 27 to 33 West 57th Street. Black shrouding has gone up over the facades of all buildings at the site, likely signaling their imminent demise.
Permits for exterior renovation were issued late last year, but given 29 West 57th’s lack of landmarking, updating the filings to full demolition would be quite simple — as Vornado has already announced intentions to demolish the existing buildings, it would seem to be a matter of time before the scope of work is expanded.
29 West 57th Street was originally built in 1924 for Chickering Pianos, and it was designed by Cross & Cross. At only thirteen floors, it does not impact the skyline, but its presence and charm on the street-scape are undeniable, especially given the gilded detailing.
With work seemingly about to begin, Vornado’s plans remain fuzzy. Air rights could potentially include the Hadassah site, at 50 West 58th Street, which sold for $71.5 million to an undisclosed buyer back in 2012; the block’s patchwork of high-profile owners definitely presents an obstacle to anything enormous, but even as-is, 27-33 West 57th Street could accommodate a spindly residential supertall.
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