How serious is the Whitney Museum about building its Renzo Piano-designed artsplosion in the Meatpacking District? Pretty friggin' serious! The Whitney just sold its portfolio of properties around its Marcel Breuer building?which includes six brownstones next door on Madison Avenue and two townhouses around the corner on 74th Street?for what's believed to be around $100 million. That kills any future Upper East Side expansion plans the Whitney might still have been clinging to, and pumps even more cash into the MePa project. The Whitney's director told the Times the museum has now raised $475 million of its $680 million goal. So what's going to happen to the houses?
That remains to be seen. The buyer of the properties is Daniel E. Straus, an investor who is planning commercial and residential uses for his new toys. Nothing more specific yet, but the buildings are in the Upper East Side Historic District, and any major (or minor!) development plans would likely meet with stiff neighborhood opposition. Straus has hired preservation specialists Beyer Blinder Belle to look into what can be done with the site. As for the Breuer building, the Whitney's biggest donor issued a decree that it not be sold, so talks continue with the Metropolitan Museum of Art on some sort of partnership. Groundbreaking on Whitney Downtown is slated for May.
· The Whitney Trims Its East Side Holdings [NYT]
· Whitney MePa coverage [Curbed]