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15 Broad Street

Block 41 Lot 1

15 Broad Street

23 Wall Street, foreground; 15 Broad Street, rear

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 Street.

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 architecture."

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 street."

Roof of 23 Wall Street

Roof of 23 Wall Street

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 Stock Exchange.

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."

Lobby chandelier

Lobby chandelier

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.

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