By Carter B. Horsley
Directly across Wall Street
from Federal Hall National Memorial and directly across Broad
Street from the New York Stock Exchange, this conversion project
of two commercial structures to condominium apartments has the
most impressive Lower Manhattan location.
It consists of the five-story building at 23 Wall Street that
originally was the headquarters of J. P. Morgan's banking operations
and the 42-story office building that wraps around it and was
originally the Equitable Trust Building.
An article by David W. Dunlap in the May 11, 2004 edition of The
New York Times about the project had the headline: "Condos,
Not Roll-Tops, on Finance's Holiest Corner."
The building at 23 Wall Street was built in 1914, one year after
the death of J. P. Morgan, and it was linked in 1957 to 15 Broad
According to Mr. Dunlap's article, "The buildings were later
remodeled as headquarters of the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company,
corporate forerunner of J. P. Morgan Chase & Company."
23 Wall Street is an official New York City landmark and in 1998,
the New York Stock Exchange planned to raze all the buildings
on this block with the exception of 23 Wall Street for a new stock
exchange and office tower, but that plan was scuttled after the
terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. That plan included a
design by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for a 50-story tower
adjacent to 23 Wall Street that had an interesting glass facade
that randomly seemed to "drip," a design later used
by SCLE in similar fashion for a new condo tower for the William
Beaver development a few blocks to the south.
In 2003, A. I. & Boymelgreen of Brooklyn bought these two
buildings for $100 million and announced plans to spend about
$135 million on their renovation and conversion into 326 apartments.
Ismael Leyva is the project architect working with Philippe Starck,
the French architect best known for his design that put furniture
with extremely spiky points in the lobby at the Royalton Hotel
on West 44th Street. Mr. Stark also worked on the renovation of
the Paramount and Hudson Hotels in midtown Manhattan and the Mondrian
Hotel in Los Angeles and the Delano in Miami. The project's website
describes Mr. Starck as "the leading exponent of expressionist
Initial prices for the apartments ranged from about $335,000 for
a studio to about $3.5 million for a three-bedroom apartment.
Mr. Starck is quite flamboyant and in Mr. Dunlap's article he
was quoted as stating that the project, which will have a bowling
alley, basketball and squash courts, lap pool and a small theater,
will embody "honesty, respect, tenderness, surrealism, poetry,
surprise, vision - which have no value on the other side of the
Residents, however, have unimpeded
access to the roof at 23 Wall Street where Mr. Starck designed
a garden with trees, teak decking, a large pool fed "by a
tall, crook-shaped pipe, looking like a giant faucet," and
a "topiary wall with window-like openings in which lanterns
will hang." The view from the rooftop is spectacular as it
looks directly at the highly decorative pediment of the New York
A 1,900-piece, Louis XV chandelier that hung in the main banking
hall at 23 Wall Street was installed in the lobby of the Broad
Street building and Mr. Dunlap's article noted that it would hover
"inches off the floor, with plasma screens displaying residents'
faces interspersed among the crystals."
15 Broad Street was designed
by Trowbridge & Livingston in 1928. It replaced a building
that had been occupied since 1891 by Davis, Polk & Wardwell,
a law firm that moved out during its construction but returned
and stayed there for another 35 years.
The bowling alley is in the basement in space that was once used
as a shooting range for the bank's security guards.
Shaya Boymelgreen, the president of LB Lev Leview/Boymelgreen
came to the United States in 1969 and subsequently founded a bookstore,
Eichlers, which specialized in Jewish literature. He later sold
Eichlers and then went into the diamond business before entering
real estate, starting with some projects on the Lower East Side
and then doing some in Brooklyn.