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644 Broadway

Between Bleecker Street & Bond Street

73
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.
 

This 8-story, orange stone building at 644 Broadway is known as Bleecker Tower and is one of the city’s more ornate surviving 19th Century buildings. 

It was designed by Stephen Decatur Hatch in 1891 for the Manhattan Savings Institution and was converted in 1987 to a residential cooperative with 15 apartments. The architect for the cooperative conversion was Joseph Pell Lombardi, one of the city’s most active and best converters of architectural interesting older properties. 

The building is on the northeast corner at Bleecker Street and is adjacent to the spectacular loft building at 65 Bleecker Street that is the only work by Louis Sullivan in New York City.

Bottom Line

One of the city’s most impressive and ornate loft buildings, Bleecker Tower has a great location that is close to NoHo, Greenwich Village, the East Village and SoHo and very large loft spaces.

Description

With a chamfered corner, which is always pleasant, the Bleecker Tower offers a cornucopia of delightful architectural detailing that swirls the eye into euphoria.  It’s not so much as to make one dizzy, but just enough want to shout out hurrahs. 

The building has a very ornate cast-iron front door in a two-story-high arched entrance surround.  The corner is occupied by a large retail store and at one time there was a club in the base.

Amenities

Bleecker Tower has a part-time doorman, private storage, and a freight elevator as well as a passenger elevator.

Apartments

The apartment lofts are not small. 

One has a 16-foot-long entry foyer that leads into a 20-foot-long kitchen with an island adjacent to a 22-foot-long dining room that opens onto a 25-foot-long living room that opens onto a 26-foot-long library.  There are two large bedrooms and four walk-in closets. 

Apartment 2-W has a 48-foot-long “great” room, an 8-sided kitchen with a 27-foot-long pantry and a 27-foot-long bedroom. 

A four-bedroom apartment has a 35-foot-long, six-sided living/dining room and a 20-foot-long eat-in kitchen, and at one end of a very long foyer a 26-foot-square family room/home office/study.

History

According to www.daytoninmanhattan, thieves broke into the Manhattan Savings Institution on this site on October 27, 1878 and got away from about $3.5 million in cash and securities, or about $50 million by today’s standards, “the most sensational bank robbery in US history.” 

A decade or so later, the bank moved into a temporary headquarters while this building was erected.  It was designed by Stephen Decatur Hatch in a Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne style with significant rustication on the lower two floors, bay windows on the sixth floor, and arched windows on the second and top two floors.  The Broadway side of the building was surmounted by a broadly peaked roof with MSI boldly standing out on its entablature.  The corner chamfer was topped by a large turret.  The building also had three impressive bandcourses and the retail entrance at the corner is arched. 

Stephan Decatur Hatch also designed the very impressive and ornate Gilsey House at 1200 Broadway and the Clocktower Building at 346 Broadway that was formerly the headquarters of the New York Life Insurance Company. 

The building was converted to a cooperative apartment building by Martin Fine around 1978 and Mr. Fine gave himself a 99-year lease for its retail space.  He died in 2008 but left the lease to his niece, Marsha Soffer.  Mr. Fine and the co-op’s board disputed how much rent was due for the retail space and according to an article by Lauren in the Wall Street Journal Ms. Soffer said that the retail rent is “funneled into a foundation that donates hundreds of thousands of dollars to charities like the Harlem Children’s Zone, Jack Martin Fund and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

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Dahlia
Between Amsterdam Avenue & Broadway
Broadway Corridor
Forward-thinking and elegant homes on the Upper West Side. 2-4 bedroom residences | Occupancy Q3 2020.
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