Thursday, March 5, 2009

Make The Former Drake Lot A Public Space For Now

(L) Inside the lot at 440 Park, (R) Fence around the lot

It is a sad sight. Where once the proud and revered Drake Hotel stood now stands a vacant lot, shrouded behind a black fence. Oh, there were big plans, big plans indeed for the spot on 56th and Park where Harry Macklowe planed a tower to span as high as 50 stories. Whether it was to be residential, office or some combination was never determined. All of that planning and dreaming went up in smoke with Macklowe's financial difficulties, the credit crisis, etc., etc.. So now we are all stuck with one big, empty, unused, 25,000 square foot lot. Last we heard, DeutcheBank was foreclosing or threatening to foreclose on the property and iStar Financial was looking to offload it's senior mortgage on the property at a discount.
We should not allow the arrested development syndrome to turn to blight. There are far too many vacant lots in the city where once there was a dream. Since the Drake lot is in such limbo, and any prospect of building on the lot is probably a minimum of a couple years away, perhaps we should make chicken salad out of, you know, chicken stuff. I would propose that such a space, already demo'd and levelled can relatively easily be transformed to space for temporary public use. If the DOT can turn streets on Broadway into pedestrian malls, why not a huge lot on Park?
iStar Financial Offering Drake Loan At Steep Discount (The Real Deal, Jan 2009)
Stories About The Drake Hotel (Curbed)


  1. Very good idea. What's also important is making sure this destruction doesn't spread to the beautiful, Civil War-era townhouses next door, which Macklowe wanted to raze and would've if he'd been able to buy them! They're some of the most elegant buildings in Midtown, just like the Drake used to be.

    Thanks, Macklowe, New York City owes you one.

  2. Thanks anon! Great input. It is such a large lot, I thought they may have knocked out more than The Drake. With everyone building hotels, I am surprised that they knocked one down, especially a good one.
    Of course, the idea is to transform the space temporarily, then if someone buys it, DOT can move all the furniture and all to the next vacant mega-lot.

  3. Whoops, posted with my wife logged in.

  4. You idiot. Central Park is a park. The Drake development site is a...wait for it....a development site. Not a park.

    Parks have trees, squirrels and flowers, perhaps even a baseball field.

    Development sites, have--the ability to become big beautiful buildings, that create places for people to work, live and stay over as a tourist.

    Hope this helps you.


  5. At least you signed your post "idiot". I am talking about a temporary space, much like DOT has done with parts of Broadway down by the Flatirin building- chairs, tables, planters. I look forward to the former Drake taking on a glorious future as a new development that inspires and importantly creates jobs. In the meantime, these lots have a tendency to become blights.

  6. Sorry for the Flatiron typo.

  7. The problem is that a "temporary" space can become permanent if some lefty professional protester decides they like it. They'll whine, moan and complain about how it's evil to take away open space in dense Manhattan. Even if they didn't succeed, they can slow down development progress and put a lot of bad press on it. If I owned that parcel of land, I would never allow the DOT to do anything with it just to avoid that risk.