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Owner's Dispute Leads to Auction of the Flatiron Building

March 19, 2023

The lights have been off at the Flatiron Building since MacMillan Publishers vacated the historic office building in 2019.

If you've passed by recently, you will have noticed a gray construction netting blanketing the iconic façade, as a result, ruining hundreds of tourist photos every day. It doesn't appear that any construction is happening, but there may be an explanation for the stalled work.

The trophy building is currently at the center of a dispute between its owners, leaving the fate of one of NYC's most beloved landmarks in the balance.

Ownership Woes Lead the Flatiron Building to Auction

Despite being a fixture in the NYC office space world, changes are coming to the Flatiron Building. The dispute began over a year ago according to various NYC real estate news articles. The building's owners had previously agreed to contribute $80 million towards renovations. However, one partner accused the others of inflating construction costs, diverting funds away from the building's upkeep, and not putting enough effort into marketing the Flatiron Building to new tenants. Perhaps the construction netting should be emblazoned with the words "For Lease."

A legal battle ensued, and after failing to reach an agreement, the majority ownership decided that the Flatiron Building would be sold at auction to resolve the dispute. It's not out of the question that the highest bidder could include a few of the owners from the previous partnership, as they are active real estate firms invested in the Flatiron District. We'll have to wait and see.

The upcoming auction is sure to catch headlines. It will be closely monitored by those interested in the iconic building and the future of the neighborhood surrounding Madison Square Park. Although it is uncertain who the new owners will be, one thing is sure – the Flatiron Building isn't going anywhere.

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The Flatiron Building and Daniel Burnham

A Short History of the Flatiron Building

The Flatiron Building was built in 1902 at the three-way intersection of Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and 23rd Street. Designed by famed architect Daniel Burnham [read: The Devil in the White City] and built by the Fuller Construction Company as their NYC office space headquarters, the historic office building is considered one of the earliest examples of a steel-framed skyscraper and quickly became an iconic symbol of New York City.

New Yorkers don't think of the 22-story Flatiron Building as a skyscraper these days because it's dwarfed by many other buildings in the neighborhood, including the new IBM offices at One Madison Avenue. But when the Flatiron Building was built at 175 Fifth Avenue, it was one of the tallest in the city.

Over the years, the building has served as a home for many businesses looking for office space in New York City, including music publishers from Tin Pan Alley, insurance companies, and the Imperial Russian Consulate. There was even a restaurant with a jazz club in the basement. Each full floor of office space is roughly 10,000 square feet.

Despite its age, it is still an imposing structure that always catches the eye of locals and attracts tourists who often walk down Broadway to see it after visiting the Empire State Building.

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Flatiron Building floor plan