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55 Thompson Street: Review and Ratings

at The corner of Broome Street View Full Building Profile

Carter Horsley
Review of 55 Thompson Street by Carter Horsley

This handsome, 9-story rental apartment building at 55 Thompson is graced with a large terracotta medallion of a car driving through the Holland Tunnel in SoHo.

The building has a rounded, windowed corner at Broome Street, which is considerably more graceful than the rounded corner base of the large apartment building on the southwest corner of West End Avenue and 86th Street that was completed about the same time in 2010.

This building, which is pet-friendly, has 39 apartments, a 24-hour concierge, a garden, a sun deck, a fitness center and recreation room, a bicycle storage room, a central laundry facility and a resident building manager and maintenance staff.

Apartments have 10-foot-high ceilings, fully vented washers and dryers, solid white oak flooring and some apartments have gas fireplaces and some have balconies and some have terraces and penthouses have skylights.

Kitchens have Sub-Zero refrigerators, stainless steel Bertazzoni gas ranges, Bosch stainless steel dishwashers, white oak cabinetry, Rainforest polished stone countertops and full height polished glass backsplashes.

Bathrooms have double vanities, polished silver travertine countertops, Kohler Ladena undermount sinks, Kohler soaking tubs, separate stall showers and Toto Aqua Dual Flush Elongated Toilet with soft close seat.

The medallion, which has been placed on the building s rooftop mechanical space enclosure, is visible from the building's Broome Street corner. It had formerly adorned the corner roofline of the Tunnel Garage at 520 Broome Street and has been restored before its installation of the building that replaced 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.

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 façade styling and the terracotta medallion of a car going through the Holland Tunnel, which was completed in 1927. According to a "Streetscapes" article by Christopher Grey in The New York Times, September 6, 1998, "a syndicate of local businessmen, headed by George L. Stivers, a Charlton Street physician, put up this unusual building in 1922, designed by the architect Hector O. Hamilton, who would win a competition ten years later to design a Palace of the Soviets in Moscow but was replaced in 1933 by a Russian architect.

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 new building that had had a 520 Broome Street address but is now known as 55 Thompson Street.

The Zucker Company has built numerous residential towers in Manhattan such as the High Gate on East 34th Street, the Future on Third Avenue, and the towers at 205 East 59th Street and 30 East 85th Street.

According to an article by Pete 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.

Stephen B. Jacobs was the architect of this off-white-cast-stone paneled building and his other prominent projects in Manhattan include the architect of the Gansevoort Hotel in the West Village and the Gansevoort Park Hotel on Park Avenue South and the condo tower at 325 Fifth Avenue.

A November 23, 2009 article by Pete at said that the medallion's "best viewing is along West Broadway in front of Kenn's Broome Street Bar," adding "Or just hit up Jason Pomeranc for a west-facing suite at his 60 Thompson Hotel across the street."

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