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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

The Police Building, 240 Centre Street

Between Broome Street & Grand Street

91
Carter Horsley
Review by Carter Horsley
Carter Horsley Carter B. Horsley, a former journalist for The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune and The New York Post. Mr. Horsley is also the editorial director of CityRealty.com.
 

Smack in the middle of Little Italy's tenements, the Police Building at 240 Centre Street between Broome and Grand streets is a spectacular Baroque-revival-style palace.

It was designed by Hoppin & Koen in 1909, when architects and planners were still under the influence of the image of the "White City," the Beaux Arts inspired notion of a beautiful city that had been highlighted at the World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

This very ornate structure was built as the headquarters of the city's Police Department.

At the time of its construction, the city still nurtured the idea of developing a magnificent new city government complex in the City Hall area.

In 1973, the city opened a new headquarters for the Police Department, a huge modernistic, red brick box to the east of the Municipal Building, and this building fell into limbo after many years of neglect.

S.I.T.E. (Sculpture In The Environment), a famous New York design group, teamed with some architects and Canadian developers a few years later to try to redevelop this building as a deluxe hotel, a use that made perfect sense given the grandeur of its exterior and the scale of the interiors. Financing, however, was difficult to obtain as the area was distinctly off the beaten jet set path.

The success of SoHo and NoHo revived interest in the property and in 1988 it was converted into cooperative apartments. The developers of the conversion were Arthur D. Emil, John J. Ferchill and Edward R. Downe Jr. Mr. Downe, the head of Downe Communications, took over one of the grandest apartments to house part of his very extensive collection of 20th Century American Art.

The 55-unit conversion, designed by Ehrenkrantz Group & Eckstut, was remarkable and one of the nation's finest examples of re-use of historical properties.

Bottom Line

New York City is full of surprises, but none more startling than this building.

While the majestic building does not boast some modern conveniences, it does have  some fireplaces, and, most importantly, a grandeur that rivals the best of the long-gone Millionaire's Row on Fifth Avenue.

Description

The building's dome harkens to the great cupola of the Hotel des Invalides in Paris, albeit not quite so ornate. But the building’s wedge-shape at the north end where it has its own fenced park also evokes memories of Venice and its great promontory buildings.

The building has an entrance at the mid-block of its Centre Street frontage that leads up a few stairs to a lobby spacious and dazzling enough to rival all luxury hotels in the city.

Amenities

The building has a doorman and a concierge and a gym.

Apartments

Almost all the apartments are large and different and many have very tall ceilings. One of the most desirable includes the garden and another has the terrace overlooking the garden.

The Downe apartment was not the most spectacular as it was not the one with the Dome.

Apartment 6N has a great room that is 31 feet in diameter that adjoins a 17-foot-long sitting area next to a 15-foot-long kitchen and a 14-foot-long bedroom.

Another one-bedroom unit is a duplex with a 24-foot-long, double-height living/dining room adjacent to a pass-through kitchen on the lower level.

Apartment 2E is a one-bedroom duplex with a 21-foot-wide living room and a 10-foot-wide, pass-through kitchen on the lower level and a 13-foot-long bedroom on the upper level.

Apartment 4A is a one-bedroom duplex with a 14-foot-long foyer that leads past a 9-foot-long, pass-through kitchen to a 24-foot-wide living room with a 16-foot ceiling adjacent to a 12-foot-bedroom with a13-foot ceiling.  The upper level has a 11-foot-long den/guest room with a 5-foot-long alcove.

Apartment 4N is a three-bedroom duplex with a 21-foot-long foyer leading to a 16-foot-long gallery that opens onto a 39-foot-wide living/dining room next to a 16-foot-long kitchen.

History

Usually, planners hope that major projects such as this can not only enliven and invigorate a neighborhood but also lead to a considerable redevelopment and gentrification. Such dreams, however, were not realized here as the Little Italy community was not eager for new development, although in the last quarter of the 20th Century it did witness an upgrading of its main thoroughfare nearby with a variety of urban design ploys that helped its retail activity.

The building is, without question, one of the premier residential properties in Lower Manhattan based on the quality of the building and the apartments. Its location, however, remains rather awkward, but has improved slightly. The former gun shops and "press shacks" for the reporters that covered the police beat are gone and Little Italy is in full blossom a block or two away at Café Roma, the best Italian café, in the city, or Café Ferrara, the larger and more famous institution.

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