Rendering courtesy of Mercato Fabbrica
Plans to bring an Italian market to the First National City Bank building at 415 Broadway (or 296 Canal Street) have just been announced. The narrow block between Lispenard and Canal Streets once housed the largest commercial bank in the world and is known for its Art Moderne facade. The 35,000-square-foot interior will be transformed into Mercato Fabbrica, a “culinary destination inspired by the great markets, department stores and social clubs around the world.” The idea has been in the works since 2018 and is slated to open later this year.
The building as it looks today. Map data © 2020 Google
Completed in 1927, the building was designed by Walker & Gillettte in the Art Moderne style, a more streamlined version of Art Deco that originated in the United States. The building featured a monumental entrance on Broadway that opened onto the soaring banking area and had offices on the upper floor. Architectural critic Lewis Mumford said, “The note of modernism pervades this structure… and is splendidly successful.” The bank changed names a few times and finally became Citibank from 1976 until they moved out in the 1990s. Architect Joseph Pell Lombardi remodeled the building for retail use, leaving the exterior largely intact. It’s since been home to several temporary pop-ups, most recently the gym Shock Therapy.
Plans for Mercato Fabbrica include a marketplace for artisanal groceries on the ground level; a tea parlor, nano-brewery, café, and European-inspired boutique on the second floor, and a rooftop terrace with a plant-based café, bar, and outdoor cinema. Most curiously, the third floor will be home to what the developers are calling Pax Romana, “a culinary social club with coworking lounge, bar, cookbook and vinyl libraries, podcast broadcasting and listening suites.”
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