Photo via Max Pixel
“I see the building as a Sleeping Beauty: It needs to be woken up and revitalized,” developer Aby Rosen told the Post about his plans for the Chrysler Building. His firm RFR Realty, in partnership with Signa Holding, bought the landmark for $150 million last month . His plans include restoring the 1930s Art Deco interiors by way of a series of restaurants that will take inspiration from Chrysler’s original Cloud Club, as well as adding a ‘”fashionable food hall” (of course) and retail spaces. The biggest news, though, is that he also wants to incorporate a new observation deck, joining the ranks of 30 Hudson Yards, One Vanderbilt, and Chrysler’s one-time rival the Empire State Building.
The Cloud Club, via NYPL
The Cloud Club was an executives’ lunch club that opened with the building in 1930 on its 66th-68th floors; at the time, it was the highest such club in the world. Originally, it was built for Texaco, who occupied 14 floors of the building. During Prohibition, it operated as a speakeasy, and for several decades was men-only. Some of the members included Pan Am founder Juan Trippe, publisher Condé Montrose Nast, and boxer Gene Tunney, and Walter Chrysler himself, who had his own private dining room. The biggest draw was the views through its double-height windows, but it also boasted a cathedral-style vaulted ceiling with a cloud mural, a bronze-and-marble staircase, and an eclectic mix of architectural styles, from a Tudor lounge to a futuristic dining room.
The Cloud Club closed in 1979, after which there were several failed attempts to create a new restaurant for the space. Today, Rosen won’t be able to revive the Club itself, as it’s now occupied by shipping-industry bank AMA Capital Partners. But he does hope to mimic the poshness of it, much like his controversial attempt to recreate the Four Seasons in the Seagram Building, which he bought in 2000 for $379 million. To that end, he’s currently in talks with Major Food Group, who run Seagram’s new Pool and Grill, and Stephen Starr, the restauranteur behind LeCoucou in Rosen’s Soho hotel 11 Howard. For now, those are the only public details about his restaurant and retail plans.
There is also little information about Rosen’s observation deck, however in 1945, an observatory did open at the Chrysler Building. The Celestial was located at the spire on the 71st floor, where for 50 cents, visitors could take in 360-degree views. It had a celestial theme, complete with Saturn-shaped lighting fixtures and sun rays painted on the walls. As recently as 2015, it was reported that a private firm now occupies that floor, so it’s unclear if this is the same location Rosen is after.
Rosen is considering converting the office tower into a hotel. “Major upgrades would be required for the 90-year-old tower, a challenge for any 1930 building but particularly for one that is protected by landmark laws,” as 6sqft recently reported. It’s estimated that it would cost upwards of $200 million to attract new tenants to the tower’s 400,000 square feet of vacant space, a problem that a mixed-use program could help solve.
Neighborhoods : Midtown East