New York City's skyline is always a work in progress. Buildings go down, new icons rise from the rubble. Between visits to America's flagship city, favorite haunts can become haunting memories.
The Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, Lincoln Center, Freedom Tower, the Flatiron Building: those enduring tourist icons are international symbols. Beneath these architectural heavyweights are dozens of lesser known edifices.
At the junction of Flatiron and Chelsea, there's a whopper. 620 Sixth Avenue (see photo, below) is an architectural masterpiece that, inside at least, literally a shadow of its former self.
One Block, One Building
Amid architectural masterpieces in various stages of glory, restoration, transition and decay, few are more visible than 620 Sixth Avenue. Once home to the world's largest department store, now occupied by Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Bed, Bath & Beyond...and a lot of underutilized space.
For a Time, The Biggest Store in the World
Ground was broken for the Siegel-Cooper Dry Goods Store back in 1895. When it opened two years later, it was the biggest store in the world. It was also first steel-framed department store in New York City (and not a bad place to be if there's an earthquake today).
620 Sixth Avenue has, through World Wars and the age of the automobile, retained much its stately exterior, marred by garish signage on the ground floor.
A Few Glory Years...Early in the Life of an Exceptional Building
Glory faded quickly: Siegel-Cooper, an anchor for the now forgotten shopping district dubbed "Ladies' Mile", closed in 1917. Since then, this 700,000 square foot building has been home to a glorified warehouse, a social service agency, and now, a hodgepodge of national retail chains.
620 is the architectural equivalent of the girl in high school who, for a few precious years, created a hormonal wake when she strutted passed by the boy's locker room. Now she's emotionally damaged, struggling with bad taste and patchy makeovers.
The beauty of things that were once glorious is always tinged with pathos.
Heavy Lidded During the Day,
Better at Night.
700,000 Square Feet X $60 per sq. foot =RXR profit?
In 2012, Scott Rachler's RXR Real Estate Co. acquired 620 Sixth Avenue, at the cusp of a neighborhood boom. The Flatiron Building, Madison Park, Eataly, the Highline, galleries, a ridiculously popular Trader Joe's and other destination retailers and restaurants are within a few blocks.
The Commercial Observer posted on their website a couple of years ago, "RXR has been marketing the building’s top two floors, six and seven, which together total about 150,000 square feet, for rents over $60 per square foot, a rate that would have been unthinkable at the property only a few years ago."
I'm guessing RXR is asking for more money per square foot these days.
UPDATE: It May Not be Fizzy, but it's Full
- RXR sews up last of 620 Sixth Ave. | Crain's New York Business
Crains New York said in the summer of 2013 that 620 is fully occupied. If you can verify this, please comment below.
You Wouldn't Recognize the Place Today
In Case You're Interested...
- 620 Avenue of the Americas - RXR Realty
One of the premier anchors of Manhattan’s vibrant Chelsea sub-market. Amenities and availabilities.
Jack Burden from Columbus, OH on May 11, 2015:
Looks like a great space - Shame it can't be better utilized.