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Rendering of 520 Fifth Avenue's retail podium via ZUM3D Rendering of 520 Fifth Avenue's retail podium via ZUM3D
Things have been quiet over at the site of 520 Fifth Avenue for the past year, but the prime corner lot at West 43rd Street is expected to yield a much-anticipated 71-story tower. Spearheaded by Ceruzzi Properties and the U.S. arm of Shanghai Municipal Investment, SMI USA, the residential-retail project was slated to break ground this past spring, but construction work hasn’t occurred since the pre-existing buildings were demolished in 2014. The lot was picked up by the developers for $275 million in 2015 and has roughly 300,000 buildable square feet. Presently the lot holds a make-shift holiday market, and building permits filed by Handel Architects two years ago remain unapproved.

We got our first peek of the tower’s façade last year when the team mounted an illustration on the site’s chain-link fence. The vignette showed a close-up of the sloping setback section located approximately one-third up the 920-foot+ tower. Now, we have our first full look at the skyscraper’s exterior, courtesy of the rendering whizzes at ZUM3D.

The featured view looks north up Fifth Avenue, with the Manufacturers Trust Company Building rendered as a vacant lot on the left-hand side. As depicted, Handel has designed a tripartite, crystalline spire with chiseled facets that should add a bit of dynamism to straitlaced Fifth Avenue. Since heights listed on DOB building permits typically count only to the top of the highest occupied floor, three upper-level mechanical floors and a raked crown may allow the tower to soar into supertall territory: +1,000-feet or +300-meters, depending on who you ask. Upper level apartments whose windows eclipse 500 Fifth Avenue will have panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and the Empire State Building.

However, ZUM3D’s renderings may not depict the final appearance of the building. Last October, the New York Observer reported that Handel is tweaking the design to include pied-à-terre apartments on its lower floors in lieu of an initially planned 150-180 room hotel. Yesterday, we covered Ceruzzi Properties and SMI USA's other soaring Midtown skyscraper, at 138 East 50th Street, which experienced a similar switch from hotel rooms to apartments. Three floors of the podium will be dedicated to more than 30,000 square feet of retail, and the rendering shows a faceted marquee, marking its place on the coveted avenue. Thor will be handling the retail leasing.

The project is not the first fallow Fifth Avenue development site to feature temporary retail. In 2007, Bank of America installed a temporary “gift box” on the site of 400 Fifth Avenue that offered gift-wrapping services, free hot cocoa and coffee and public restrooms for 10 days. We can only hope the tawdry pop-up shops at 520 Fifth Avenue will be gone at the end of the season and replaced by excavation equipment.
Rendering of 520 Fifth Avenue via ZUM3D
Pre-existing buildings formerly owned by Rosen's RFR Holding (L); Recent rendering of 520 Fifth Avenue by Handel Architects (R)
Temporary market on the site (yes, this is Fifth Avenue)
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