Pfizer’s former Midtown HQ to become 1,500 apartments

June 26, 2024

Pfizer World Headquarters. Photo via WikiCommons

The former Midtown headquarters of pharmaceutical company Pfizer is poised to become New York City’s largest office-to-residential conversion. As Crain’s New York first reported, the vacant two-building complex at 219 and 235 East 42nd Street will become a 1,500-unit rental property. Metro Loft Developers, the team behind other large residential conversions, including 55 Broad Street in the Financial District, is leading the conversion. The project will not contain any affordable housing units, according to the developer.

The two-building property measures 973,000 square feet, making it an ideal opportunity for a substantial residential conversion. Additionally, the two sites have unused air rights, allowing Metro Loft and partner David Werner Real Estate to add floors.

Metro Loft and Werner plan to build more than 1,500 residences, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, with leasing slated for 2026 and move-ins in 2027, Nathan Berman, chief executive of project lead at Metro Loft, told Crain’s. Gensler is serving as the design architect, interior architect, and architect-of-record on the project.

Still, many alterations are needed to convert the building into apartments. At the moment, none of the windows in the buildings can open, a common design feature in office buildings. However, local housing codes require that apartments have at least one operable window.

The developers plan to replace all 2,000 windows across the two buildings. The project will also involve removing the facade and installing more energy-efficient outer walls, which differs from the common trend of residential conversions that usually preserve the original facade.

The project is expected to cost “hundreds of millions of dollars,” with the developers hoping to “not hit $1 billion,” Berman told Crain’s. The newly converted residential complex will not include any affordable housing, with apartments priced at market-rate rents.

Under the current conversion guidelines, buildings completed before 1961 are eligible for residential conversion, with certain exceptions. However, due to the housing supply shortage, Mayor Eric Adams has proposed lessening the restrictions and permitting conversions for buildings constructed in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

In 2018, Pfizer sold 235 East 42nd Street to Alexandra Real Estate Equities and Werner for $228 million, who allowed the company to remain as a tenant for a few more years, and sold 219 East 42nd Street to the developers for $142 million, according to Crain’s. Now, Metro Loft and Werner are working to buy out Alexandria’s stake in the project, with a closing scheduled in the coming weeks.

Construction financing is still in the works, with the process expected to begin in the coming months. Demolition is slated to begin in a few weeks.

The Pfizer conversion project is one of many office-to-residential conversions happening across the city. In April 2023, construction wrapped up on One Wall Street, the former headquarters of the Irving Trust Company that is now a 566-unit residential tower.

Other projects include converting 55 Broad Street in the Financial District into 571 market-rate apartments, also developed by Metro Loft with Silverstein Properties, the historic McGraw-Hill Building in Hell’s Kitchen into 224 luxury rental apartments, and the Pearl House at 160 Water Street, a former 1970s-era office building now home to 588 apartments.


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  1. R

    All three mentioned designed by Emery Roth & Sons.