A historic clock known as New York’s Big Ben is at the center of a court fight involving plans to build a roughly $21 million penthouse at 108 Leonard Street.
The Elad Group and partner Peebles Corp. plans to turn the building, also known as 346 Broadway, into more than 140 apartments, and the most expensive unit would be the penthouse, according to the New York Times. However, the building’s landmarked clock is supposed to be “wound” by hand every week and would only be accessible by passing through the penthouse apartment, a matter the developers handled by persuading the Landmarks Preservation Commission to let them cut off access to the clock tower.
Opponents of this plan filed suit against the developers, and the State Supreme Court and the Appellate Division both ruled in their favor. The Court of Appeals heard the case last month, and a ruling from them is pending.
The clock tower penthouse is not part of the developers’ plan for now, although that may change depending on the court ruling.
The city has defended its decision about the clock tower, while opponents of the plan have portrayed the developers’ plan as greedy.
Michael Hiller, a lawyer for the opponents, told the Times that the developers are “seeking to privatize an interior landmark for use as a luxury residential apartment so they can turn an additional profit of more than $20 million.”
“It’s not as if they can’t make a killing on this property from the sale of the other condominium units,” he said.
Peebles Corp., led by Don Peebles, had sued Elad for $125 million over the project in 2017, alleging that its development partner cheated it out of its ability to sell its stake, but they settled the dispute in an agreement that lets Peebles keep its minority stake. [NYT] — Eddie Small