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Inside the Beaux-Arts Emigrant Savings Bank amid its condo conversion

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The historic bank building is being converted into apartments courtesy the Chetrit Group

Courtesy Max Touhey

Thirty-two years ago, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission declared a pioneering Beaux-Arts building on Chambers Street a New York City landmark. At present, this 17-story building is in the midst of a transformation into swanky condos courtesy of the Chetrit Group, which purchased the building from the city in 2013 for $89 million.

The structure was built between 1909-1912 for the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank (now just Emigrant Bank). At the time of its completion, it was the largest bank building in the United States, and its “H” shaped design by Raymond Almirall, was the first time that style had been used for a skyscraper, which in turn provided light to larger portions of the building.

The bank decamped from its headquarters in 1965 and sold the building to the city, which used it as municipal offices for decades until it sold the building to Chetrit in 2013, as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to cut down on the city’s use of office space.

One of the most remarkable features of the building is the former main banking room, which stretches all the way from Chambers Street to Reade Street, and has approximately forty-foot-tall ceilings lined with a host of intricate stained glass panels. Curbed recently had a chance to tour the bank hall and the building’s model apartment.

This ground floor interior space was also landmarked by the LPC in 1985, and the architecture firm on the condo conversion, Woods Bagot has worked to restore many historic elements of the building not limited to the bank hall. These include the carvings, cornices, friezes, and a symbol that’s found throughout the building: a beehive motif.

This motif crowns the building as well, and the oval shaped beehives feature three copper bees. This was the symbol of the Barberini family, an Italian merchant family from the Renaissance period. The bees were also a long-standing symbol of industry and prosperity, as the Landmarks Commission report on the building states.

The monumental bank hall is also the location of the condo building’s model apartment: a three-bedroom unit with a home office. Once the condo project is complete, this bank hall will be used as an events space, but the developer declined to provide details on that for now. Mind you, residents will have entrances both on Chambers and Reade Street to enter the residential portion of the building, while the bank hall continues to operate as an event space separately.

The model features all the interior finishings that will be found throughout the building’s 99 apartments. The interiors were designed by Gabellini Sheppard, and some of the standout features include the floating ceilings with recessed lighting, Hickory hardwood floors in a herringbone pattern, solid wood doors, up to eight-foot-tall curved and bay windows, and flourishes of bronze, metal and mirror—all elements that are meant to evoke the landmarked building these condos are in. The condos at 49 Chambers, as the building is now known, will come in a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom units.

As for the amenities, there’s a full floor of them, and they’re all located below the bank hall. They include an illuminated swimming pool with an adjoining whirlpool, a gym with a private yoga studio, a hammam with a steam room and sauna, and a residents lounge with a private screening room, and a virtual golf studio. There’s also a rooftop park (for residents only), among other amenities.

Sales got underway in April this year with prices starting from $1.995 million. A handful of condos are currently in contract, according to StreetEasy, and among the available units, prices range from $1.955 million and go up to $6.95 million for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom penthouse unit. Marketing and sales are being handled by the Marketing Directors.

At present the limestone facade of the building is being resurfaced and the interiors are being remodeled on the upper floors to create the condos. Work is still on track to wrap by June of next year, Natalia Belgrade, the director of sales at the condo, informed Curbed.

49-51 Chambers St

49-51 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007