Manhattan’s iconic Flatiron Building will be converted into a luxury residential tower, its new owners announced on Thursday.
The development team of the Brodsky Organization, the Sorgente Group, and the Gural family’s GFP Real Estate plan to start shoring up permits early next year to convert the 22-story, wedge-shaped tower into a residential space, after the building sat vacant for years and was the subject of a highly-publicized bidding war.
The Flatiron is perhaps the city’s most notable office building to undergo a post-COVID conversion to residences as white-collar workers embrace remote work. Since the 120-year-old building is a New York City landmark, the developers will need the approval of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission before proceeding.
“The Flatiron is an iconic New York City building and The Brodsky Organization is very proud to join our partners at The Sorgente Group and GFP Real Estate in preserving this landmark property,” said Daniel Brodsky, CEO of the Brodsky Organization. “We believe that the Flatiron Building is well suited for residences and we look forward to working with the City and the Landmarks Preservation Commission on this exciting opportunity.”
It’s not clear how many residences will be built in the new Flatiron Building, nor whether they will be rentals or condominiums.
The tower, located at the corner of 23rd Street, Broadway, and 5th Avenue, was designed by prominent turn-of-the-century architect Daniel Burnham and completed in 1902, becoming Manhattan’s tallest building north of Union Square at the time. Like so many other Big Apple buildings, critics initially scoffed at the edifice, but it has since become so iconic that the surrounding neighborhood is now ubiquitously referred to as Flatiron.
Sorgente, an Italian real estate firm, purchased a controlling stake in the building in 2008 and planned to convert it into a hotel, but those plans were foiled due to the continued tenancy of British publishing house MacMillan. The publisher left in 2019, and the following year the whole building was vacant.
The owners of the building — including Sorgente, GFP Real Estate, Newmark, and ABS Partners — sought to gut renovate the building, but could not agree as to how. As a result, this year a Manhattan Supreme Court judge ordered the building be put to auction.
The owners sought to keep control of the building, but were blindsided when a little-known investor named Jacob Garlick put in a winning $190 million bid. Garlick’s claim was short-lived, though, after he failed to post a $19 million down payment. Another auction was called, and the original investors, led by developer Jeff Gural, won with a $161 million bid.
Gural had hoped to preserve office space within the building, but on Thursday conceded to the New York Times that the post-pandemic environment was simply much friendlier to residential development.