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Rendering courtesy of LeFrak Organization Rendering courtesy of LeFrak Organization
One of the biggest preservation tragedies in recent years was the loss of the Rizzoli Bookstore at 31 West 57th Street. Since 1985, the purveyor occupied the former Sohmer Piano Building whose Italian interiors were embellished by vaulted ceilings, cherry woodwork, and hand-wrought chandeliers. In 2015, partnering developers Vornado Realty Trust and the LeFrak Organization razed its 6-floor home along with two other buildings to assemble a major development site on the proclaimed "Billionaires' Row." According to a story from WSJ, chief executive of Vornado, Steven Roth told a Chicago audience that the site would be redeveloped into “a seven-star hotel."
Rizzoli is now located 25 blocks south on Broadway and 25th Street while the 57th Street site sits precariously fallow and fenced-in. Since the leak, it has been radio silence from the developers, and building applications have yet to be filed. Recently, an elevation rendering titled 31 West 57th Street was published on Lefrak's website. It shows a rudimentary glass tower standing roughly 600 feet high with a multi-floor cutout along its eastern side. The tower would rise next door to the Sheldon Solow-owned 9 West 57th Street, which commands some of the highest office rents in the city. Designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the swooping 689-foot-tall tower flaunts a trio of exposed cross supports on both its east and west facades. Perhaps this is the reason for the cutout?
31-west-57th-Street Vornado and Lefrak's cleared site at 29-33 West 57th Street (CityRealty)
31-West-57th_Street-353 Looking west down 57th Street with 111 W. 57th in the distance(CityRealty)
31-West-57th-Street-03 The slice of sky the tower will occupy
Looking east down 57th Street with 7 West 57th Street rising in center
Though this site sits still, Manhattan continues to rise around it. Two avenues west, Vornado is on the final construction lap on 220 Central Park South, an opulent 952-foot tall condo-tower designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Directly across 57th Street, Solow is itching to build a mixed-use encore to his 9 West 57th Street. And on the other side of 9 West 57th, Solow has moved skyward on a narrow 19-floor condo at 7 West 57th Street.
Billionaires row Google Earth aerial with future/possible Billionaires' Row towers shown

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