Making Magic: Alchemy Properties
Alchemy continues its tradition of architecturally distinct buildings with a diverse trio of luxury condominiums in three Manhattan neighborhoods including the famed Woolworth Building.
The Woolworth Building
When the opportunity arose to acquire the tower portion on floors 29-58 of the world-renowned Woolworth Building, Alchemy Properties knew this was definitely in their wheelhouse. The Manhattan developer has been focusing on ground up development for the last 10 years producing sexy glass towers like 35XV at 35 West 15th Street. Office building-to-residential conversions were an important niche when Alchemy was founded in 1996.
These transformations often present unique challenges that new construction does not. They also provide opportunities for remarkable residences—especially when redeveloping an architectural icon like The Woolworth Building.
“A building like this couldn’t be built now. This is not a glass tower—you actually have wall space for large pieces of art—but there are enormous windows and captivating views. We designed the kitchen and bath layouts around the views and the windows. Some of them have beautiful polychromatic terra-cotta surrounds in the kitchens and bathroom. We wanted to emphasize those,” says Joel Breitkopf, principal of Alchemy Properties.”
Soaring high above City Hall Park, The Woolworth Building designed by Cass Gilbert was the tallest building in the world when it opened in 1913. Alchemy is reimagining the top 30 floors as The Woolworth Tower Residences with French architect Thierry W Despont. Thirty-three luxury condominium residences are topped by an extraordinary seven-story Pinnacle Penthouse.
Breitkopf notes that The Woolworth Building, from the point of view of layouts, is equal to or better than any brand new building. Many of the floor plates are nearly 6,000 sq. ft. so they work well for full floors or divided into two units. The design was perfect for residential conversion and all the rooms including the kitchens and bathrooms are spacious and spectacular and grand. When they walk into these apartments, brokers and buyers are amazed by the proportions and the elegance of the rooms along with the ceiling heights which are between 10 and 15 feet.
“For all our projects we do a very deep dive into the history of the neighborhood and then we try to understand it in the context of the city,” adds Breitkopf. “With The Woolworth Building that was even more of a national, historical review process.” Working closely with the city on this landmarked building, Alchemy is restoring portions of the facade as well as Frank Woolworth’s pool. The copper ceiling tiles from Frank Woolworth’s office on the 40th floor are being installed in the new building lobby.
In addition to The Woolworth building, Alchemy is also developing The Noma at 50 West 30th Street designed by Fx Fowle Architects in the evolving Nomad neighborhood. “We have more of a Bauhaus theme there—very modern,” says Lauren Mantia, Vice President of Design and Marketing at Alchemy Properties Inc.
Also in the works is 250 West 81st Street designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects on the Upper West Side. Mantia describes this project as a contemporary reinterpretation of the classic Upper West Side residential building. The developer isn’t limited by one signature style, but there is a common thread that runs through its eclectic body of work. “We aim to develop architecturally distinct buildings that complement the neighborhood,” says Mantia.
“Nowadays we’re selling 18 months before the product is delivered, we usually build a sales gallery nearby with renderings of the amenities and photography. We also build out the kitchens and the bathrooms,” she adds. This enables buyers to see the aesthetic and functionality of the kitchens. “They want to touch and feel the finishes.”
Many of Alchemy’s kitchens are open to the living room, so the kitchen design becomes a focal point of the residence. Bathrooms are just as important. When outfitted with spa-like finishes and luxury features like larger showers, steam, radiant heated floors and soaking tubs, the master bathroom becomes a private oasis in the city.
“Buyers who come to the Upper West Side are frequently there because of Lincoln Center and a love of the arts,” says Breitkopf. “If they have children, they typically want them to be involved in the arts.” The building Alchemy is developing at 81st Street and Broadway has a full complement of amenities including a music rehearsal and recording room with a sound booth.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to learn piano or guitar, sing and record and write music in their own building,” says Breitkopf. “We always try to provide the amenities that residents will actually use and enjoy. And we’re happy to say they do.”