Skip to Content
CityRealty Logo

Carter's View

A large terracotta medallion of a Model T car driving through the Holland Tunnel that once graced the corner roofline of the Tunnel Garage at 520 Broome Street has been restored and placed on the roofline of the 9-story apartment building that is replacing the garage.

The low-rise garage had been the center of a landmarks controversy in 2007 when the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, the Friends of the Tunnel Garage and the SoHo Alliance unsuccessfully urged the Landmarks Preservation commission to designate the garage a landmark.

"A recent rezoning of the area has resulted in the disappearance of nearly all parking lots and garages in SoHo, making this rare remaining garage extremely valuable and potentially profitable," the organizations had maintained.

"While garages of this type and in this style became common throughout Manhattan as the City entered the automobile age," Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, wrote in a letter to Landmarks Preservation Commission Robert Tierney, "this one is particularly distinguished for its vibrant brickwork, its elegant terra-cotta polychromy and signage, its dramatic and unusual rounded corner, the intactness of nearly all historic details including ornamentation and early industrial windows, and its prominent siting. This may be the finest architectural expression in our city of this form, which exploded in the 1920's with the boom of automobile production and the subsequent transformation of out cityscape and our country in its wake."

In April, 2008, the New York City Board of Standards & Appeals voted to grant a variance for a 9-story, 51-unit, residential condominium building planned by The Donald Zucker Company on the former site of the Tunnel Garage at 520 Broome Street on the northwest corner at Thompson Street in SoHo.

Community Board 2 had voted unanimously against the granting of the variance, noting that "the applicant refused to agree to a request by the neighbors not to rent to a restaurant or bar, and that...raised concerns about the amount of cooperation they could expect." It also maintained that the developer "chose to quickly demolish the building and close down an existing profitable business" when "there were several alternative uses that could have preserved this landmark quality, but undesignated, building, especially from a Boston garage condominium operator."

The 3-story. brown-brick garage was erected in 1922 and was notable for its simple but good facade styling and it had a large terracotta medallion of a car going through the Holland Tunnel, which was completed in 1927.

Stephen B. Jacobs, the architect of the Gansevoort Hotel in the West Village and the condo tower at 325 Fifth Avenue, is the architect for the project.

The Zucker Company has built numerous residential towers in Manhattan such as the High Gate on East 34th Street and the Future on Third Avenue, and the new tower at 205 East 59th Street.

Last week, it was disclosed that Mr. Zucker had purchased the 158-acre North Shore Country Club in Glen Head on Long Island for about $13 million to preserve it as its membership had fallen off sharply in the wake of the Bernard Madoff ponzi scheme scandal.

The club has a golf course designed in 1916 by A. W. Tillinghast, who also designed the Bethpage Black course.

According to an article by Pete today at, the garage medallion is "tucked away on a setback and hidden above Thompson Street." It is, however, more visible than when it had been covered over by a circular signed that said "24 hr. parking."

It is also luckier than the far more impressive Art Deco medallions that graced the Fifth Avenue entrance to Bonwit Teller, but were demolished by Donald Trump for Trump Tower.

Additional Info About the Building

Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.