A Lower Manhattan Landmark Gets a Makeover

The ongoing renovation work at 836 Broadway includes creating three floors of prebuilt office suites


One of Lower Manhattan’s newer landmarks is getting a dramatic interior renovation. 

The six-story, cast-iron loft building at 836 Broadway was constructed as a lighting showroom in 1876 and painted a striking fire-engine red. The city landmarked it in 2019.  

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Bobby Zar’s ZG Capital Partners and architect Spectorgroup are undertaking a soup-to-nuts renovation that includes three floors of prebuilt office suites as well as new mechanical systems and elevators and a new lobby. Zar spent $39.2 million acquiring the 84,516-square-foot property in 2021, and then began renovating the building in the spring. Work is set to wrap by the end of this year. Asking rent on the top floor is around $125 per square foot, and on the lower floors, asking rents hover around $100 to $110 per square foot.

The top floor is double height and includes an upper mezzanine floor, which has been opened up to allow workers to look down on a large lounge space and kitchen from upstairs. A floating staircase with glass sides joins the two levels, and glass railings line the upper mezzanine. A large skylight brightens the whole space, which includes gray modular couches, leather armchairs, and an open pantry with a white marble countertop and open white shelves set into a wooden wall. An original brick wall in the space was repointed and painted, in an effort to preserve a bit of history. Meanwhile, upstairs, small glassed-in conference rooms overlook the lounge and open work areas. 

The prebuilt suites will feature plenty of custom millwork, including curved semicircular alcoves with bench seats and tables, as well as window seat booths carved in the shape of the property’s historic Neo-Grec windows. 

Architect Scott Spector explained that he was using millwork to help create more informal places for people to sit and work. Separating work areas with floor-to-ceiling curtains, rather than walls or shelves, was another detail aimed at making the prebuilts feel comfortable. 

“It’s more hospitality,” said Spector. “We’re doing different wall coverings and softening the space. The ceiling heights are amazing. There’s a warmth here that’s difficult to achieve in other office buildings downtown.” 

The lobby is also getting a unique revamp, complete with repeating gold archways along the walls and ceiling that are shaped like the building’s windows, and LED lighting meant to highlight the shape of the archways.

Rebecca Baird-Remba can be reached at rbairdremba@commercialobserver.com