Tribeca clock tower may be converted into penthouse, appeals court rules

Two lower courts had sided with preservation advocates

Elad Group chairman Isaac Tshuva and the Tribeca Clock Tower building at 346 Broadway (Credit: Google Maps)
Elad Group chairman Isaac Tshuva and the Tribeca Clock Tower building at 346 Broadway (Credit: Google Maps)

The developers of 106 Leonard can now add another unit to their plans, according to a ruling from the New York State Court of Appeals.

Although two lower courts had ruled that Elad Group and Peebles Corporation could not convert the building’s historic clock tower into a luxury penthouse, the state’s highest court overturned those decisions with a 4-2 majority late last week, Curbed reported.

“We’re exceptionally disappointed especially after having prevailed in the lower courts,” Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council, which sued the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in 2015, told Curbed. “In a very real way, this is kind of a de facto de-designation of an interior landmark. It’s a troubling decision.”

The building, also known as 346 Broadway, was designated as an interior landmark in 1987. Elad and Peebles bought the former court building from the city for $160 million in 2013, and in 2015 LPC permitted the developers to convert the building, including the E. Howard & Company clock tower at the top, into luxury apartments.

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LPC also allowed the developers to cut off public access to the clock tower, provoking the ire of preservation advocates who brought a lawsuit against the Commission.

In 2016, when a judge first ruled in favor of the activists, Peebles announced that it planned to exercise an option to sell its stake in the project. Elad blocked the move, triggering a legal dispute that threatened to derail the development, because the city could take back the property if it was not completed within five years of the sale.

The partners settled the dispute in 2017, with Peebles keeping its minority stake, while Elad would “continue managing the development.”

The developers have moved ahead with their plans for the rest of the building, minus the clock tower penthouse, and sales at the building launched in March 2018. [Curbed] — Kevin Sun