Getting in on the Ground Floor

Article excerpt

Although many small, older office buildings have struggling in the 1990s, sound structural and new mechanical systems coupled with a prime location at the head of Madison Square Park allowed the Madison Square Building to remain a viable B building in midtown Manhattan. The building was 50 percent occupied, but a dark, narrow lobby and ground-floor showroom space that had stood vacant for a decade undermined the marketability of the 330,000 square foot historic building.

To enhance the leasability of the building, especially to the giftware and decorating companies that congregate in the area, Schroder undertook an extensive renovation that included new HVAC systems, new elevators, and a complete remodeling of the lobby floor.

The lobby remodeling, which accounted for approximately $ I million of the total renovation budget, was a key component of the overall plan. Situated in the middle of a block, the entrance was further obscured by an asymmetrical lobby entrance.

"Schroder wanted to develop an identity for the building, and opening up the lobby and adding awnings helped create a street presence," says Joe Costabile, executive director for Cushman & Wakefield, managing and leasing agents for Madison Square Building. Changing the building's name to tie in with the adjacent park also aided recognition.

The size of the entrance lobby was doubled and the main doorway was moved to the center of the building. Lobby finishes were replaced with granite flooring and rare wood veneers. Windows were added to draw in natural light and provide views of the park. Taking advantage of a 19-foot clearance, a vaulted ceiling and indirect lighting were installed.

An arcade was constructed to join the north and south entrances of the building, running between 26th and 27th Streets. The north entrance was closer to the Lexington Avenue subway station at 28th Street, so improving the access made it easier for tenants and showroom visitors to get into the building. Initially, the renovation plan called for adding a leasable mezzanine area, but costs of $110 per square foot proved prohibitive.

If the new lobby added tremendously to the buildings leasability, other portions of the renovation provided new sources of income. …