Friday, January 11, 2019

2037 Don't Stand Under the Spire

The Chrysler building is for sale. I'll start the bidding at $89.95.

In the opinion of many, it is the most beautiful building of its era and possibly the most beautiful example of art deco architecture anywhere.

But the Chrysler Building is like the dog who wins best of show at the American Kennel Club, promptly dies, gets stuffed and forever sits in the middle of the living room getting in the way of everything and requiring constant repair.

Not that it’s falling apart.  Everything’s more or less up to code. But anything that sits in one spot for nearly 90 years tends to creak a bit.

Walter Chrysler oversaw the building and owned it.  He wanted his kids to inherit it, which they did.  His company’s east coast HQ2 was located there from opening day until 1953.  And the family had two apartments in it, one duplex and the other a quad-plex.

Chrysler didn’t visit his house a lot. Same thing with his estate in Kings Point, Long Island -- now the United States Merchant Marine Academy.  But it was a pet project and personal.  The company didn’t own it. He did.

You walk into that lobby and you’re transported into gloriously over-decorated old times.  Exotic wood walls in the elevators.  Floors, if fallen upon will not break as easily as you would.
Can you imagine being the real estate agent showing prospective buyers around?

“Wait a minute.  This is only the 38th floor. We have a few little highlights to see on the remaining 39 stories! You can take a nap on the 50th.”

For about ten minutes, this was the tallest building in New York. It now is the sixth tallest.  That’s still pretty tall, 77 floors. And it’s 80 percent occupied… lower than the average for an office building in the borough.

Who owns it today?  Hard to say.  All these giant buildings are owned by huge and convoluted partnerships.  An investment bank here, an Asian or Middle East kingdom, the tax collector… it’s hard to figure.  

But apparently all the partners agree, it’s time to sell.

The spire leaks.  The Cloud Club is gone.  The land beneath is owned by Cooper Union and has been since the 1800s.  And now… all this can be yours.

No one’s really talking price yet.  But the building’s most recent sale was for $800 million.  The market has seesawed since then. Was 2008 a good year to buy $1.1 million square feet in midtown? Most likely.

Probably be helpful if you came to view with a preapproved mortgage in hand.  Or cash. Well, maybe not actual suitcases of money. That would make you look less like a real estate mogul and more like a drug lord.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
© WJR 2019

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