Firm aims to turn iconic 23 Wall into entertainment hub

But community board sees problems with hospitality group's plan for long-vacant FiDi building

TRD New York /
Jan.January 08, 2015 10:28 AM

The long-dormant 23 Wall Street may be rising from the dead. Unless thwarted by concerned Financial District residents and the landmarks approval process, a hospitality developer is moving forward with plans to transform the stately 1914 building into an all-inclusive entertainment destination, with live shows, food and more.

Last night, Latitude 360 CEO Brent Brown presented his vision for the property to Manhattan’s Community Board 1. His plan for the building — which sits directly across the street from the New York Stock Exchange — includes a restaurant in the vein of the Cheesecake Factory or P.F. Chang’s, an arcade, a bar with a performance stage, live comedy every Friday and Saturday, movie screenings and “luxury bowling,” among other elements.

The structure was designed as JPMorgan’s headquarters, and it was occupied by the firm from the time it first opened in 1914 until the late 2000s. It was designated a landmark in 1965. Chinese investment company China Sonangol bought the building in 2008 for $150 million, but has thus far failed to secure a tenant.

Brown’s business strategy seeks to capitalize on the hordes of tourists who visit the Financial District and nearby sites only to find few entertainment options. Additionally, about 40 percent of Latitude 360’s business in urban areas comes from corporate events, and Brown said 23 Wall Street would be an ideal location because of its proximity to the business community.

The board met the proposal with stiff opposition, citing worries about noise, congestion, the venue’s 2 a.m. closing time, the 1,500 person capacity and the character of the concept.

“What made you choose this neighborhood over a Times Square?” one board member asked.

“This concept, to me, does not belong in a mixed use neighborhood. Would you go to the Upper East Side with this concept?” another one questioned.

Latitude 360 operates similar entertainment venues in Jacksonville, Fla.; Pittsburgh; and Indianapolis, with the newest addition soon coming to Albany. They are working on plans for more sites in or near New York City, including one across from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, one in Jersey City and one on Atlantic City’s boardwalk.

The building at 23 Wall Street stands just five stories, but is connected to 15 Broad Street, or Downtown by Starck, a Philippe Starck-designed 40-story condo building. The space at issue also includes retail at the base of 15 Broad Street.

Brown said that while they are at the beginning of the approvals process, they will be seeking a liquor license next month. Construction would take approximately one year.

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