Designers chosen for International Toy Center condos

By Amy Miller | November 07, 2007 10:30PM

Two well-known architects are designing the conversion and expansion of one of the International Toy Center buildings overlooking Madison Square Park.

Yitzchak Tessler, who recently bought the building at 1107 Broadway, said John Pawson, who designed Ian Schrager’s 50 Gramercy Park North, and Eran Chen, formerly of Perkins Eastman, would create a minimal design that is also warm and inviting.

“It will be the most luxurious building in Manhattan,” Tessler said. “You won’t want to leave the building.”

Tessler purchased 1107 Broadway three months ago for $235 million, The New York Observer first reported last week. Tessler said he plans to add eight floors and build 187 luxury condominiums equipped with everything from a day-care center to catering and maid services.

The building’s one-, two- and three-bedroom condos should go on the market in February for $2,300 to $2,500 per square foot, Tessler said, but no papers have been filed with the state Attorney General’s office. The interior demolition has just been completed.

“The key is to use very high-end materials,” Tessler said. “It’s like if you wear a white dress. You’d better make sure the material is very fine and expensive, or it can be boring.”

Tessler bought the building from the Chetrit Group, the firm run by the press-shy developer Joseph Chetrit. Two year ago, Chetrit purchased the 16-story building at 1107 Broadway and the 15-story building at 200 Fifth Avenue for $350 million and planned to convert both into condominiums.

But Chetrit battled several lawsuits while trying to remove tenants from the historic Flatiron District buildings that had once housed toy designers and manufacturers. After abandoning the plan to convert the 800,000-square-foot Fifth Avenue building into condos, Chetrit sold it last spring for $480 million to the L& Holding Company, which planned to lease the building as office space.

Other planned conversions in the neighborhood have also been abandoned. One Madison Avenue, home for nearly a century to the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, was bought in March of 2005 by SL Green Realty Trust, which planned to convert the tower into apartments. But in May 2007 the tower was sold, along with adjacent air rights, to Africa Israel Investments for $200 million.

Those scrapped projects would be dwarfed by an ambitious conversion and expansion planned by Elad Properties — a 74-story residential tower to be built on top of the office building next to the Madison Square Park Clock Tower. The building would be New York City’s tallest residential tower.

Tessler’s project at 1107 Broadway, meanwhile, will be a family-friendly development with children’s play areas, green space, a swimming pool, a gym, a basketball court and bowling alleys, he said. Tessler plans to turn the footbridge that connects 1107 Broadway and 200 Fifth Avenue into to a space for parties and receptions.

“It’s a family building, and we’ll do everything we can to accommodate them,” he said.