50 Broad Street Celebrates Centennial



The 20-story office building at 50 Broad Street turns 100 years old this year, but don’t be fooled by its age: the building just got a multimillion dollar nip and tuck that ownership hopes will keep it around for at least another century.

50 Broad Street
50 Broad Street

In concert with Cushman & Wakefield, the building’s manager since 1962, ownership has so far pumped $16 million into a major infrastructure upgrade that includes a new lobby and aims to restore the property’s 1913 charm, while bringing it up speed with its younger neighbors.

“We said we were going to restore it to how it was and we’ve truly done that to the best of our ability,” said Joseph Freda, a director at C&W who is overseeing the renovation.  But, he added, “We’re bringing the building into the 21st century.”

Spare the original terracotta ceilings, known for its brittleness, and granite that is “impossible to get,” the engineer said he and his crew have gone to painstaking lengths to restore the original architectural details.

An additional custom-made chandelier is in transit, which will complete the trifecta in the main lobby.  A new ceiling, marble walls and new windows exact the original sleekness, while new revolving doors, a card access system, HVAC and electrical systems bring the building up to speed with the young and hip buildings up the block.  Individual floors are also under ongoing renovation.

Renovated lobby at 50 Broad Street
Renovated lobby at 50 Broad Street

The boutique building currently hosts a mix of non-profit, boutique financial and creative tenants, with brokers in charge of the leasing of the property’s 260,000 square feet (roughly 100,000 feet vacant) of office space noting increased interest from startup tech firms.

One recent newcomer is Half Yard Productions, a production company that has worked with Discovery, Animal Planet and National Geographic Channel, which occupies the entire ninth floor.

“A lot of the creative tenants are moving from Midtown South, where they are priced out of the market,” said James Searl, who is exclusive leasing agent at the property with Bernard Weinstabel and Carlos Suárez, while Mark Bassin serves as building manager.

“Our building fits the pro forma for the younger tech firms.  It’s older so it has a lot brick work and the floor plate is irregular.  It’s not that typical nine to five suite-type environment that you see in the financial spectrum,” he said.

While not the $11 per square foot that some tenants were paying prior to the renovation, the threefold jump to asking rents of $33 per square foot is still a relative bargain for tenants, brokers said.

Downtown office rents average $39.58 per square foot, while rents in Midtown South average $49.69 per foot, Q4 data from C&W shows.

“The fruits of our labor are paying off,” Mr. Searl said.  “From what we had, to what we have, is like going from zero to 60 in three seconds.”

The building opened in the late summer of 1913, roughly one year before the start of World War I, at the time one of the tallest office buildings in the Financial District and located between the Stock Exchange and the Consolidated Exchange.  The construction of the building was estimated to cost $1.5 million.