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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Finally Flatiron

flatironI moved to Corcoran's newest office located in the Flatiron district last April, for many of the same reasons that are mentioned in this week's 'Living in' column, Polishing the Grit Out of a Neighborhood in the NY Times. I wanted to be based here for many reasons, not the least of which is that I consider it one of Manhattan's most overlooked neighborhoods, and that was bound to change rapidly. It's a place where there is real value in the quality loft homes, local amenities, shopping and excellent transportation to every other part of the city via the 6,N.R,W,F,V and nearby 1 trains.

Locals took an immediate interest in the building, placing bets on how far the debris would spread when the wind knocked it down and nicknaming it "the Flatiron" because of the building's resemblance to the irons of the day.
flatironI'm not sure of the source of Times' neighborhood boundaries, but I believe that the conventional wisdom is that the area just north of 23rd Street and Broadway, is considered Flatiron district as well. Indeed, the famous NYC street scape of the iconic building is actually shot from outside the district, according to the article. Its boundaries seem to be defined as much by what they are not; ie. not Chelsea, not Gramercy, not the Village and not mid-town— as much as by what they are, namely somewhere close to the monolithic presence of the Flatiron building. The Flatiron or Fuller building, as it was also once known, is one of the first buildings to use a steel skeleton to build up to a lofty 280 foot height. It was completed in 1902 and is today, the second oldest skyscraper standing in the city. I've walked the neighborhood since being a student, and later as a faculty member of the School of Visual Arts, of which the campus 'bookends' the district. In the 80's it was simultaneously referred to as the "photo district" because of the high concentration of modeling agencies, studios and labs in the area's lofts. Our office's lobby directory still proclaims 636 Sixth Avenue as the "Photography Building" although none seem to be listed anymore. With the dot-com boom and bust of the 1990s, the photographers moved-on, and it became briefly known as a main corridor of "silicon-alley" as the geeks moved-in with venture capital money paying the rent.

Today, the green spaces of Madison Square and Union Square Parks, have been reclaimed from seedier pasts and are once again full of life. They are magnets for locals, with the very popular Shake Shack as a lunchtime favorite. Flatiron is a pocket of splendid architecture, being newly appreciated by residential buyers. It's lack of a centrally located supermarket (there are a couple at the edges) being mitigated by Fresh Direct servicing the area. Excellent shopping for housewares and hardware abound with Home Depot, Restoration Hardware, The Container Store and Bed Bath & Beyond, ABC Carpet all nearby. Local entertainment includes a cineplex at Broadway and 19th Street and a wide variety of eateries in every class.

The parallels to Soho are unmistakable, from the historic cast iron & masonry facades, to the creative heritage of the neighborhood's pioneers. Loft home re-sales in the area are often more attractively priced than their Soho or Tribeca counterparts. New developments and conversions compete with the best in the city in amenities and pricing. Please contact me if you'd like to visit and find out more.

read the complete nytimes article