Longtime Lumber Location Transitions to Tower

Photo by Yanan Wang Prince Lumber will abdicate, and Prince Tower will take its place.
Photo by Yanan Wang
Prince Lumber will abdicate, and Prince Tower will take its place.

BY YANAN WANG  | The Prince is donning a glass crown.

The current site of the longtime Meatpacking District resident Prince Lumber Company (at the corner of West 15th Street and Ninth Avenue) will be transformed into a modern-style office tower. Working with real estate firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank (NGKF), company president Guy Apicella told Chelsea Now that he is excited to oversee the new development, which will be called Prince Tower.

“I don’t think it will fit in [with the rest of the neighborhood],” Apicella remarked. “I think it’s going to stand out: especially because we lie outside of the historic district. It will be a positive thing for us to have a building that is completely different.”

After reviewing a few different candidates, Apicella selected architectural firm Kohn Pendersen Fox Associates (KPF) to undertake the project. He had been immediately taken by the design team’s idea of using curved glass to not only mirror the waves of the nearby Hudson River, but also the emerging generation of artists and innovators in the neighborhood.

For a firm that has historically managed larger building projects such as Hudson Yards, the relatively small size of the Prince Tower site will offer the architects an opportunity to experiment with intricacies in the design. Jamie von Klemperer, a KPF architect, said it is a pleasure to deal with “the more intimate aspects of the craft.”

Klemperer said the design team would be taking advantage of the building’s location just outside of the historic district by presenting it as a counterpoint to the older structures around it.

“In a way, it’s really an alternative to the straight, pinstriped, boxed architecture of midtown Manhattan,” he noted. “This is a part of town that sponsors a lot of creative industries. You have fashion, you have media, you have graphic designers. Why not do something freer, looser here?”

A selection of high-end retail stores and offices will occupy the inside of Prince Tower’s sleek exterior. According to NGKF Vice President Jeffrey Roseman, the building will house approximately three levels of retail space, totaling around 60,000 square feet. So far, Roseman said, there has been a large demand for the space because of its location near Chelsea Market and adjacent to the Apple store.

Apicella said the relocation of the lumber company has been a long time coming. When Prince Lumber was first established in 1982, the area was very different, he pointed out.

“It used to be one of the highest crime areas in Manhattan, so we’ve seen a big transformation,” Apicella recalled, adding that the bustling streets have become too busy for the lumber trucks to easily maneuver in and out.

“I knew the area didn’t want a lumber company anymore,” he said. “The neighborhood has changed, and it’s changed for the better.”

Apicella spent two years working with Justin DiMare of NGKF seeking a new location for the business, which will move to 612-18 West 47th Street sometime in the coming year. Due to rezoning, the allocation of manufacturing zones has decreased significantly, and Apicella said it was difficult to find an affordable site in Manhattan.

According to Apicella, the estimated cost of construction will be $80 million. The company may not have to worry about finances after Prince Tower is constructed, though. Located in one of the most coveted and bustling areas of the Meatpacking District, rental space in the building will likely go for high price values.