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Chatham Towers, 180 Park Row

Between Pearl Street & Worth Street

Key Details

  • Year Built 1964
    Building Type Cooperative
    Neighborhood Lower East Side
  • Total Apartments 240
    Total Floors 25
    Doorman FT Doorman
$932
Avg. Price / ft2
$1,000
Avg. Price / ft2

Rating

32
Out of 44

Architecture Rating: 32 / 44

+
29
Out of 36

Location Rating: 29 / 36

+
15
Out of 39

Features Rating: 15 / 39

+
8
=
84

CityRealty Rating Reference

 
Architecture
  • 30+ remarkable
  • 20-29 distinguished
  • 11-19 average
  • < 11 below average
 
Location
  • 27+ remarkable
  • 18-26 distinguished
  • 9-17 average
  • < 9 below average
 
Features
  • 22+ remarkable
  • 16-21 distinguished
  • 9-15 average
  • < 9 below average
  • #14 Rated co-op - Downtown
  • #1 Rated co-op - Lower East Side
 

Description

One of the city's more important "modern" apartment complexes, this enclave of two, bold and innovative, 25-story towers on a triangular block near City Hall and Chinatown is one of three major examples in the city of "Brutalism." The other two are the Whitney Museum of American Art on Madison Avenue at 75th Street and the PanAm (now MetLife) Building straddling Park Avenue at 45th Street.

These buildings at 170 and 180 Park Row in Chinatown are known as "Chatham Towers."

They are aggressive structures that project a great sense of strength and independence. They are not politically correct in terms of architecture in that they ignore, if not overwhelm, their surroundings and context.

Chatham Towers, which has a doorman and central air-conditioning. was once said to have been the city s first residential housing built of exposed concrete poured on site.

The rawness of its concrete façades has relegated it to the "Brutalist" school of architecture that was popular around the time the project was erected. "Brutalist," unfortunately, implies a perjorative description, but the rawness can also connotate unadorned, original, purity and, more importantly, power and strength, two qualities that Chatham Towers continue to convey very effectively.

This project was designed by Kelly & Gruzen for the Association for Middle Income Housing and was built as a cooperative in 1964. They are notable for their distinctive trapezoidal openings in the rooftop watertank enclosures and even more so for their simple but very strong design of balconies. There are two floors of balconies between two floors without balconies. The balconies are at the corners of the buildings but their corners are fully walled which limits the views somewhat but also gives the buildings a more robust, sculptural quality.

The 240-unit development was erected under Title 1 of the Federal Housing Act for upper-middle income families. The exposed concrete towers were built over a 125-car garage.

In his fine book, "New York's Fabulous Luxury Apartments with Original Floor Plans from the Dakota, River House, Olympic Tower and Other Great Buildings," (Dover Publications Inc., 1975), Andrew Alpern provides the following commentary about the project:

"Two firsts for Manhattan are the windows, double-glazed with built-in venetian blinds, and the walls, two 1-inch layers of gypsum board with an air space between for sound control. Hailed by the professional critics for its neo-brutalist elegance, it has also evoked acerbic comments about its apparent incompleteness."

It is interesting to note that the same firm designed the nearby undulating apartment building know as Chatham Green at 185 Park Row between Pearl Street and St. James Place three years earlier and its principals would also be involved in designed several important civic buildings nearby as well including the new headquarters of the city's Police Department in 1973.

The building has spectacular views of Lower Manhattan and is surrounded by important architecture and the glories of Chinatown.

It is not far from the South Street Seaport.

They were designed 1960 by Jordan Gruzen, Richard D. Kaplan and Mario Romanach of Kelly & Gruzen just as Chatham Green, a huge, serpentine, 450-unit apartment building with exterior corridors designed by the same firm, was about to be completed nearby.

Chatham Towers was built on a site that Herman T. Stichman, then the state's Housing Commissioner, had chosen in 1954 for two housing slabs topped by small pagodas on a two-acre, triangular site bounded by Park Row, Worth and Baxter Streets and the southernmost block of Mulberry Street.

Mr. Stichman had announced plans in 1950 for a large slum clearance project in Chinatown that would be sponsored by the American Legion with the hopes of establishing a "China Village" to replace slums in the area.

In their great book, "New York 1960, Architecture and Humanism Between The Second World War and the Bicentennial," Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman wrote that "Robert Moses, in his role as New York City Construction Coordinator, ridiculed Stichman's proposal as a 'celestial promise' that would inevitably take the community for 'a lovely rickshaw ride.' Moses, the authors continued, said that the plan's announcement "amounted to little more than 'what might be called a slip of the Tong.'"

Stichman responded with a seven-page letter that defended his plan, asking rhetorically "Must all New York housing have vertical lines, no adornment, no imagination, and much red brick and dullness?"

The Stichman project was not built, probably for a lack of financing at the time, but the demolition of the Third Avenue Elevated in 1955 led to an announcement the next year of the curved, 21-story Chatham Green project on a 4.5-acre site bounded by Park Row, Madison Street, Pearl Street and St. James Place. According to Stern and his co-authors, Chatham Green "reflected the form of Le Corbusier's Obus Plan of 1931 for the rebuilding of Algiers as interpreted by Affonso Eduardo Reidy, whose Pedregulho housing project, begun in 1947 outside Rio de Janiero, Brazil, had recently been visited by Barney Gruzen."

The former Stichman site was, the authors noted, "covered by thirty-one buildings, the last remaining fragment of Five Points, the notorious nineteenth-century slum." "Among the run-down, architecturally undistinguished buildings, however, was one beloved local landmark, O'Rourke's Saloon, at 446 Peal Street, which the New York Times described as 'a high-toned 'hangout' for a weird assortment of millionaire playboys, boxers, promoters, showgirls, politicians and bums' and 'one of the last links with the gay life on the Bowery in the old days.'"

Each of the Chatham Towers, which were built by the Committee for Middle Income Housing under Title I, contains 120 apartments. The authors offered the following commentary:

"Despite a tight budget, the design of Chatham towers conveyed a sense of luxury and decisively broke with the prevailing institutional look of subsidized housing. The towers occupied only 15 percent of the site: parking for 125 cars was tucked underground and the resulting open space was imaginatively designed by the landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg with play areas as well as a formal plaza. The slender tower parti made it possible to have only five apartments to a floor, with all but one having corner exposures. Half of the towers' apartments had terraces. The use of exposed, board-formed concrete succeeded, to some extent, in visually linking the buildings to the limestone and granite buildings of the nearby civic center and at the same time set them apart not only from the typical tenements of Chinatown but also from the more mundane red brick of Chatham Green and the Alfred E. Smith Houses, both of which were just to the east. The towers featured a number of technological innovations: they were the first to incorporate the exclusive use of drywall as opposed to the more labor-intensive plaster, and the first high-rise apartments in the city to use urethane insulation behind their exterior walls. They also introduced a Swedish-designed window that sandwiched a Venetian blind between two layers of glass and pivoted open for ventilation and cleaning....successful as the composition of Chatham Towers was, with its bold sculptural presence, the design lacked the crucial linkages to the overall neighborhood fabric that might have rescued it from the status of a 'project.' While the buildings' outdoor spaces were formally successful, their design, M. Paul Friedberg, astutely pointed out that 'what is wrong with the whole thing, and it's a major point, is that it is an insular development, focusing in on itself. This plaza should open out and link up with others.'"

An article by C. W. Thompson in the Dec. 28, 2007-Jan. 3, 2008 edition of the Downtown Express was about Steven Yaboah retiring after 27 years as the doorman at 170 Park Row at the age of 62 to become a chief of the agona clan in Ghana in the village of Yabi near the city of Kumasi.

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Building Amenities

  • FT Doorman
  • Hi Rise
  • Post War
  • Central AC
  • Full Service Garage
  • Garden
  • Washer/Dryer in building
  • Elevator
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Apartments for Sale at 180 Park Row (3)

3
Available Apts
$575K - $825K
Price Range
$932
Avg. Price / ft2
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Carter Horsley's Review

Carter Horsley's Building Review
"One of the city's more important "modern" apartment complexes, this enclave of two, bold and innovative, 25-story towers on a triangular block near City Hall and Chinatown is one of three major examples in the city of "Brutalism." The other two are the Whitney Museum of American Art on Madison Avenue at 75th Street and the PanAm (now MetLife) Building straddling Park Avenue at 45th Street.
These buildings at 170 and 180 Park Row in Chinatown are known as "Chatham Towers."" Read Carter's Full Review
Pros
  • Many Balconies
  • Spectacular views of Lower Manhattan
  • Important modern residential enclave
  • Close to South Street Seaport
  • Built-in Venetian Blinds
  • Close to Subway
  • Garage
  • Surrounded by Chinatown
Cons
  • No health club
  • Considerable Traffic
  • No roof deck
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More Neighborhood Info

Subways

  1. J
  2. Z
  3. 6
  4. 5
  5. 4
at Lafayette and Duane 0.20 miles
  1. R
  2. Q
  3. N
at Centre 0.31 miles
  1. D
  2. B
at Chrystie 0.44 miles
  1. 3
  2. 2
  3. A
  4. C
at William 0.47 miles
  1. E
at Church 0.47 miles
  1. 1
at Broadway 0.49 miles
  1. F
at Essex and Canal 0.49 miles
 

Sales Summary - Past 12 Months

View By Apartment Sizes
Past 12 Months
$884,491
Avg. Price
Based on 4 Sales
 

Closing History - Last 10 sales

View All Closed Transactions
10
Units Sold
$500K - $1.3M
Price Range
$1,012
Avg. Price / ft2

Pricing Comparison of Similar Buildings

View Detailed Comparison

In The Neighborhood: What’s Available & Sales Stats

Not enough data available to generate chart.
  • 269 Available for Sale
  • $1,892 Avg. Price / Ft2
  • $1,952,672 Avg. Price
  • $1,495,000 Median Price
  1. Most Expensive One Manhattan Square Apt PHC | $13,178,000
    Price / ft2 $3,563
  2. Least Expensive 175 Rivington Street Apt 5E | $415,000
Data is based on sales from past 12 months and only transactions for which we have approximate square footage information available are included above
Not enough data available to generate chart.
  • 286 Total Sales
  • $1,626 Avg. Price / Ft2
  • $1,500,892 Avg. Price
  • $1,075,000 Median Price
  1. Most Expensive 215 Chrystie Street Apt PH-1 | $19,000,000
    Price / ft2 $4,419
  2. Least Expensive 75 Allen Street Apt 5C | $136,925
    Price / ft2 $548

Alternate Address

  • 170 Park Row

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