Manhattan icon sold to convert into hotel
175 Fifth Avenue is an address embedded in history as the location of what is regarded as the world’s first ever skyscraper, now known as the Flatiron Building. Its historical value makes it an American treasure in the heart of its most cosmopolitan city.
But, in tough times treasures become simple assets which can provide the revenue to survive and the Flatiron Building is no exception, being sold to Italian buildings collector Valter Mainetti. Used for decades as offices, Mainetti's company Sorgente Savings Management Company acquired a controlling share in the building and has announced its transformation into a ‘world-class’ hotel. Sorgente Savings have held a 28% share in the building since 2006 through their Michelangelo Fund but the company increased this percentage in July last year to a majority stake with plans to own the property outright within ten years.
Although it may take up to ten years before a conversion can even take place (to allow current office tenancies to run out), local press are voicing concerns about the conversion’s impact on the district. In an article entitled ‘Flat Out Wrong’ in the New York Press, Casey Samulski said: “The upside is that the building’s facade must remain the same, according to the Landmarks Preservation Commission—it is already zoned for hotel space. But that won’t stop the new owners from putting up some serious exterior lighting to highlight the architecture and blind the neighbors.”
With the announcement of the acquisition of the Chrysler Building by Abu Dhabi Investment Council last year and the sale of the GM Building to Mort Zuckerman using funds from Dubai International Capital, the question can be posed - is New York selling out? Have your say by adding a comment!
Niki May Young