Permits Filed for Conversion of 180 Water Street Into 601-Unit Apartment Building, Financial District

180 Water Street, image by Nicholas Strini with PropertyShark180 Water Street, image by Nicholas Strini with PropertyShark

In 2013, Emmes Realty paid $151 million (or $330 per square foot) to acquire the 25-story black modernist tower, built in 1971, at 180 Water Street, on the east side of the Financial District.

Now, the owner is seeking to continue a decades-long trend towards housing in the Financial District, with a filing with the Department of Buildings today to convert the tower into 601 apartments, likely rentals. The conversion comes just as 180 Water is about to lose its sole tenant, the city’s Human Resources Administration, to 4 World Trade Center.

The application, submitted by Avinash K. Malhotra Architects, calls for converting all but 10,500 square feet of the building’s 457,000 square feet of usable space into apartments. The first floor would have retail space, but aside from that, the entire tower would be residential, with 20 apartments per floor.

While the overall square footage would remain constant – in fact, it would fall by 411 square feet – the building would rise from 25 stories to 32, from 345 feet to 395. (Although, oddly enough, the Schedule A filing suggests that there would be a lounge and leasing offices on the 28th floor, a recreation room on the 29th, a pool and deck on the roof, but with no mention of floors 30 through 32.)

The conversion also unwittingly illustrates the absurdity of New York State’s housing density cap, which limits new construction to a residential floor area ratio of twelve. The rule does not apply to conversions downtown – a seeming logical inconsistency, given that purpose-built apartment buildings are likely to be better designed for residential tenants than converted office blocks – and indeed this building would, after conversion, have a residential density of nearly 19, with 446,000 square feet of housing piled atop the 24,000-square foot lot.

Emmes also acquired neighboring 160 Water Street for $165 million, but no alteration permits have been filed there.

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