On Monday, a panel of judges upheld the decision to prevent developers Peebles Corporation and Elad Group from converting the historic mechanical clock at 346 Broadway in Tribeca into a triplex penthouse (and thus cutting off its access to the public), reports the Commercial Observer.
In 2015, a group of preservationists, including the Historic Districts Council and Tribeca Trust, filed a lawsuit against the developers to prevent them from proceeding with plans to make the clock, which is an interior landmark, into a private residence. (The Landmarks Preservation Commission had approved those plans, along with ones to electrify the clock, in 2015.) In 2016, a Manhattan judge ruled in favor of the preservationists, but the case was kicked up to a higher court.
As the Commercial Observer notes, the decision could set a new precedent that would make it easier for the city to landmark the interiors of a building and enforce the requirement that interior landmarks remain accessible to the public. The rule as it stands is ambiguous; the law doesn’t state how often a landmark must be open to the public, and times can range from opening daily to once every few years.
Nevertheless, preservationists are celebrating their victory. “What’s really exciting to me is that the public will still have access to the clock tower,” Tribeca Trust chairwoman Lynn Ellsworth told CO. “There’s all kinds of easy ways for the developer and owner to do that and they should have done it from the beginning.”
The developers purchased the former New York Life Insurance Company Building for $160 million in 2013, with plans to convert the landmark into 151 luxury condos, under the name 108 Leonard. The project must sell 35 condos by August 2018 or the city can elect to take back the property.