This month in real estate history

Stock Exchange opens, Met leaves 39th Street, and Puck Building reopens
as commercial condo

Apr.April 01, 2016 12:00 PM
The New York Stock Exchange

The New York Stock Exchange

1903: NYSE opens at 18 Broad Street

The New York Stock Exchange building, billed as the costliest building ever constructed for the securities industry, opened 113 years ago this month. The building at 18 Broad Street was estimated to cost approximately $4 million, but including the cost of land, the entire project ended up costing closer to $9 million, the New York Times reported. Measuring 109 feet by 140 feet, the trading floor was one of the largest spaces in the city, with six Corinthian columns and a skylight set into a 72-foot-high ceiling. The exterior was made of marble and the construction of the interior used close to 400,000 feet of oak, mahogany and other woods. The building at 18 Broad Street marked the 17th location for the NYSE. In 1922, the Exchange expanded to 11 Wall Street. Both that building and the main building at 18 Broad Street were designated National Historic Landmarks in 1978.

The-Met

The Metropolitan Opera House

1966: Met says goodbye to old opera house

The Metropolitan Opera House held a gala to bid farewell to its old home on 39th Street and Broadway 50 years ago this month. In the fall, the Met would move to a newly constructed building in Lincoln Center. Patrons, however, bemoaned the loss of the old Met, which was set to be demolished after a preservation committee failed to raise the $8 million needed to buy and save the building. The plan was to replace it with a modern office building that would provide rental income for the opera company. During the gala, patrons took home “souvenirs” from the building, the New York Times reported. Glenn Hills, the assistant house manager, said what was left, “including trifles like the men’s room doorknobs,” would be watched carefully during a short performance of the Bolshoi ballet set to take place two weeks later. The old Met building — which had 3,625 seats and opened for the first time with a performance of Faust in 1883 — had been renovated multiple times and was even rebuilt after a fire gutted the structure in 1892. With its move to the Upper West Side, the Met won a prominent location as well as a larger space with a seating capacity of 3,800.

The Puck Building in Soho

The Puck Building in Soho

1983: Puck Building reopens as commercial condo

The Puck Building in Soho, which was once the world’s largest home to businesses in the lithography and publishing industry, reopened 33 years ago this month as a commercial condominium for arts and industry. The landmark 1885 building at 295 Lafayette Street underwent a three-year $8 million renovation, according to the New York Times. Owners Peter Gee, a graphic designer, and Paul Serra, a financier, intended to turn the building into an office and studio hub for photographers, film makers, advertising companies, graphic designers, architects and interior and fashion designers. They said they would seek tenants who wanted to lease more than 10,000 square feet. “It’s kind of the next logical step to make space available to architects and designers, not just residents,’’ James Polshek, dean of the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning at Columbia University, told the Times. Ultimately, the effort to sell the condos was unsuccessful. In 1986, the Puck’s owners sold the building for $19 million to an investor group that included the Kushner Companies. Jared Kushner later sought permission to build six penthouse apartments above the historic building. After initially being turned down in October 2011, Kushner’s plans were approved and the first of the six units closed in May 2014, selling for $28 million. The remainder of the building was set aside as leasable commercial office and retail space. Tenants at the Puck Building have included Spy Magazine in the 1980s and Pratt Institute in the early 2000s. The New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service currently leases 75,000 square feet of space there.


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