Like so many places in this fascinating city, this listing comes with some interesting history: Known today as Bryant Park Place, the primarily residential co-op building at 32 West 40th Street was once the clubhouse of the Engineers’ Club. Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1907, members included–in addition to Carnegie himself–Thomas Edison, President Herbert Hoover, H.H. Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla, who was honored here upon receiving the Edison Medal in 1917 and enjoyed feeding the pigeons in the park across the street.
Units 1A and 1K currently comprise a commercial listing–with residential possibilities if you’re willing to do your homework. The property–two connected co-op units–is for sale for $3.1 million, and also for rent at $14K a month (in the latter case it would make a pretty impressive HQ for that hot new startup–and since there’s a small kitchen, those all-nighters won’t be a problem). Buyers may need to unwind some red tape, but according to the listing, residential conversion is possible along with some serious subsequent upside.
The listing invites us to “Invest in a small piece of History,” as this “hidden gem” overlooking Bryant Park lies within a 12-story Renaissance Revival-style building that “stands as an architectural reminder of the emergence of New York as the engineering center of the country and the World.”
As for the property for rent/sale, unit 1A “connects with a small kitchen to 1K on the main level.” Each unit has its own separate entrance, and a fire door creates a pass-through between the two. Unit 1K occupies a modern duplex layout with a private patio. Finishes include terra cotta floors and a steel staircase.
Unit 1A “is over half the taproom/grill space which originally extended across the full back lobby.” It features a large decorative leaded glass window and original ceiling beams. 14-foot ceilings, original brick walls and a skylight window provide grand, loft-like proportions, and a decorative fireplace and hardwood floors finished a light grey add contemporary polish.
Unit 1K was apparently built later than its neighbor; according to the listing: “While the building exterior is landmark[ed], the interior is not. As such, renovations to extend the possible residential conversion of this unit can be entertained, which would bring a substantial upside in the property use and value.”
The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission added the building to their list of NYC landmarks in 2011. The former clubhouse is flanked by the Radiator Building on one side and the Scientific American Building on the other.
The Engineers’ Club began in 1888 with their first location at Fifth Avenue and 35th Street. A NY Times “Streetscapes” tribute explains that, “at the turn of the century, the American engineer was ascendant–engineers provided the expertise to build a whole new industrial and architectural empire.” With a social organization of nearly 1,000 members, a bigger clubhouse was in order.
Club member (and steel magnate) Andrew Carnegie raised the $1.5 million needed for the construction of the Engineering Societies’ Building through the block on West 39th Street and the social clubhouse at 32 West 40th Street; the two buildings would connect on the ground floor. The 12-story clubhouse, considered to be among the most luxurious of its kind, was completed in 1907 and offered social and meeting rooms and a 300-seat dining room on the eleventh floor.
The Engineers’ Club sold the building in 1979, and it was converted into a co-op in 1983 by the Somerset Group. The Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 30, 2007.
Engineers Club Commemorative Plaque. Image: Tesla Memorial Society of NY.
Image: The Somerset Group.
Today the building is a residential co-op with ground floor retail and service tenants. The building’s distinctive facade and impressive entryway remain almost unchanged.
32 West 40th seen from Bryant Park. Image: The Somerset Group.
Bryant Park Place is an 82 unit, four-building co-operative and currently the only residential building on Bryant Park. As a residence, the building offers a wealth of pre-war details, a full-time doorman and renovated common areas.
The unique central Midtown Manhattan location is across the street from Bryant Park, of course, but also the Manhattan Public Library, Times Square and the bustling Midtown business district; it’s also near Grand Central Station, central Fifth Avenue and endless public transportation options.
Rendering of future condo building The Bryant, via CityRealty.
While Bryant Park Place currently has the distinction of being the only residential building along Bryant Park, it will soon be joined by a new residential condominium tower at 16 West 40th Street known as The Bryant as we previously reported.
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Images courtesy of the Corcoran Group except where noted.
Neighborhoods : Midtown