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Vacant Fifth Avenue Building Headed for Residential Makeover

Vacant buildings aren't exactly commonplace on the blocks neighboring Madison Square Park, but the more than 150-year old building at 242 Fifth Avenue has sat unused for more than ten years. The old building, which was given a Queen Anne style makeover in 1885, was purchased in the last year by a group of men who refer to themselves as the Pan Brothers. Alas, they are not magicians or Broadway barons but real estate investors, who plan to fix the property up into four residential units and open up its long shuttered storefront, provided their plan squeaks by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on April 23.

Community Board 5 is in their corner: the plans for the alteration sailed through the board's landmarks committee last night, despite members' crankiness about receiving the renderings late. (That's the building at right; we're waiting on renderings.) If all goes well, the roughly 12,000-square-foot building will have its roof raised eight feet to about 80 feet in total, including a new addition built on top?presumably somebody's prime penthouse digs?that the team promises won't be visible from the street. Except for a 10-foot stretch of West 28th Street, that is. "If you were walking on West 28th Street, there would be like a two-second interval where you would see it," said Frank Angelino, presenting with the group.

The building was originally built as housing, but was converted to stores and lofts in 1885, hosting an antique furniture store and a tailor, among others, but the owners would not say what kind of retail space the ground floor would be most appropriate for in 2014, when they hope to have the renovation completed. The building's large, uniquely windowed facade, the upper portion of which is largely intact to its 1885 form, will remain the same except on the ground floor storefront, which the ownership team plans to alter while keeping as "historic" as possible.
?Eli Rosenberg
?Building photo via Propertyshark