59 Franklin, compromised by a failed construction plan, will be demolished

The once-charming brick apartment house at 59 Franklin, just east of the corner with Broadway, is scheduled to be demolished, and it seems the reason is the structure is too far gone to be saved thanks to the construction next door. Plans were filed a year ago with the Department of Buildings for the demolition, and neighbors say the process has started recently. Residents across the street have watched the facade crack more and more over the last weeks. (Thanks to P. and T. for keeping me up-to-date.)

I am awaiting word from the DOB about the most recent plans for that site, since nothing has been filed since 2017. Going back to 2016, 59 Franklin was approved to be an 18-story building; see the plans below from the DOB’s file. My read on the zoning documents is that the building at 358 Broadway would be leveled to be a yard, which my guess is required since the building itself filled in the rear yard of the apartment house.

The next plans on file with the DOB are for the demolition, approved in March 2022.

When I last wrote about 65 Franklin, the empty lot next door that was also supposed to be a 19-story building, there was a stop-work order and the permits there were good until the end of March. I assume it is safe to say now that the site is abandoned, since the stop-work order was never lifted and construction never resumed.

This is all beyond depressing. Add to it the saga that is the abandoned site at West Broadway and Warren — now for sale — and the abandoned skyscraper that is 45 Park Place and you can see a story of over-ambitious developers run amok.

A comment from a “20someyearoldfilmstudent” who fled 59 Franklin/358 Broadway said the building had started to crumble even while tenants were still living there. “What the construction, development, management, and other related companies did was horrible!” he/she wrote. “The building was cracking and leaning as tenants were ACTIVELY still living in them! They employed scare tactics against some tenants who tried to stand their ground as well. Whatever they’re doing or up to is very very fishy and illegal from what I’ve experienced sadly.”

The image below shows the wall of 358 Broadway, which is not looking good.

But wait, there’s more: because the failed project at 65 Franklin still has the entire southside sidewalk of Franklin fenced off, trucks are forced to drive up on the north sidewalks, which are hollow. The result is damage to the building on the north side of Franklin as well. Ripples in a pond…



  1. This is a very important story. Why does this keep happening? Is the DOB asleep? On the take? Old buildings in Tribeca and parking garages have become threatened or allowed to fall into disrepair due to the DOB’s malfaesance.

    I’d like to see this story really investigaged.

    • DOB does not do inspection for demolition. There are multiple
      old buildings in all the boroughs. Events will continue to happen
      beyond control. Its also unfair to label a agency for corruption
      every time an event takes place. You should be directing your
      concerns to Mayor Adams and hire more inspectors to cover
      targeted areas.

    • The developers of the two sites are to blame here. The developers of 65 Franklin should have protected 59. And the owners of 59 should have ensured that.

    • The damage by adjacent developers and the issue of dilapidated garages are two different matters. Please do not confuse them.

      The latter is being addressed through new reporting requirements. See https://www.nyc.gov/site/buildings/safety/parking-structure.page.

      The former, damage by adjacent developers, is entirely the fault of developers, who are held strictly liable for the damage that occurs to adjacent structures. Landmarks Preservation Commission and Department of Buildings are at best toothless in their enforcement and at worst, effectively complicit in the destruction. As I commented earlier, developers and contractors care only about finishing their building and are happy to let liability insurance pay for the destruction left in their wake. You really could write a whole article on this topic alone.

  2. The old practice of pile driving for the insertion of foundational supports should not be allowed anymore.
    There are other safer and less damaging means to accomplish the required insertion of piles (rotation/screwing in) that cause far far less damage to surrounding buildings.
    The city should mandate the same…. Would help solve a lot of problems and drastically reduce the amount of local 11 work needed to be done to surrounding buildings

    • This is wrong headed and uninformed. Drilling piles can severely damage neighboring properties if the contractor, for example, fails to remove the drilling water diligently. The water travels through the ground and liquefies the soil providing foundation support for the neighbors, causing the neighbor to sink or rotate or both. Excessive vibrations caused by drilling piles can also lead to damage to adjacent structures. Contractors and developers have every incentive to disregard safety protocols and get their job done as fast as possible.

    • That IS a drill rig, not a pile driver

  3. This whole situation is a home run for the owner of 59 Franklin. The plan was to always tear the building down for a new development. Now the owner gets paid for the value of the existing building and the demolition, and can either roll that equity into developing the site or selling it to someone as ready for development.

    • I heard that 59 Franklin refused to sell to the developer for 65 Franklin? I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to merge the lots most demolition.

      Anyway, this is a real shame. And this corner will be an eye sore for years.

  4. The owner of 59 Franklin owns 358 Broadway and had no intention of ever trying to save either building. His plan was to always tear down both buildings. I would wager a bet to say that he didn’t care about his tenants at all and in fact is glad that the adjacent construction hastened the deterioration of his two buildings.

    • Nine rent stabilized tenants who lived in 59 Franklin Street for 4 decades were bought out of their leases 5 years ago this summer. I am one of those tenants. The landlord was successful in getting us to take a buy-out because he had gone through with his demolition plans. If a landlord wants to demolish a building he can force the tenants out, rent controlled as well. The city/state gets more money when the landlord builds larger more expensive buildings.This is similar to Eminent Domain laws, I think, where the right of the state to force owners off land if it is for the greater good. But in Manhattan the bottom line is not the greater good, it is only about money. The building was filed with artists who actually helped make this neighborhood what it has become. I miss New York.

  5. There is a court case between the two buildings. It is all in public records. I took a look at the initial filing and it says:

    1. In Feb of 2022, the DOB gave 65 Franklin Street a Stop Work Order and ordered 65 Franklin Street to stabilize 59 Franklin Street. (I think this is when the site shut down)

    2. Engineers from both buildings agreed on a plan to stabilize the building and the Department of Buildings approved the plan.

    3. 59 Franklin Street wouldn’t give access to 65 Franklin Street to stabilize the building until they got a pay out which 65 Franklin Street was not agreeing to.

    So from my interpretation, the stall at 65 Franklin Street is due to the Stop Work Order that can’t be resolved until they stabilize 59 Franklin Street. However, 59 Franklin Street won’t let them stabilize the building. And now, 59 Franklin Street needs to come down as it was never properly stabilized.

  6. The developer’s behavior in this case has been egregious as I have commented before. But the city agencies also turned a blind eye. The vibrations from the piling work has been so severe that we the residents of the neighboring buildings feared for our lives. We complained multiple times over many months to anybody who would listen. But the developers and the DOB would come and tell us that vibration monitors are installed and everything is fine. When clearly it was not given the damage to the adjacent buildings. Anyone living in the adjacent buildings would tell you things were not fine but still they were allowed to proceed for a long time. And now we are left with the aftermath which is ugly and a loss for the neighborhood on many fronts.

  7. Since tenants under NYS rent stabilization law basically have rights to the property, they should be provided the cash equivalent of the difference between their current rent and future elevated rents they would pay for a no. Rent stabilized unit. 59 Franklin was complicit in in because it’s not in their financial interest to save the building, this was 100% unlawful eviction effort.

  8. Ow that the work is stalled indefinitely doesn’t the city have the right to get the sidewalks back? They’ve created an unsafe situation for pedestrians and cause long trucks to delay traffic when they turn. It’s also shrinking the limited parking in the area (thanks placard people!) and created an open air toilet situation on Franklin. Calls to 311 go the runaround department of course. Help from the connected would be appreciated.

  9. I do not know the facts regarding this situation on Franklin, although it does sound pretty bad. I do agree with FW that folks are too quick to accuse public agencies and officials of corruption. It sounds like this is a complex situation with multiple players. Not clear whether the DOB failed to do something it should have done but it does seem that they are seriously understaffed.
    Could someone point me to information about the bldg at W. Broadway and Warren mentioned in the article.

  10. Does anyone know if this listing is still active?


    “Meridian Investment Sales is pleased to present the exclusive offering for 51-59 Franklin Street, a prime development site located in the heart of Tribeca. Investors will have the opportunity to utilize existing plans for a boutique residential building containing 89 units, or can redesign the project to maximize the 95,101 SF of as-of-right permitted ZFA. Currently configured as a five-story mixed-use building, the approved plans call for subdividing the existing lot and transferring 22,295 SF of air rights to the property. The existing building is five stories and spans 48,180 SF above grade, with two additional basement levels featuring excellent ceiling heights. The entire building can be vacated in the near term, as all of the current leases are either month-to-month, contain demolition clauses, or expire within a few months. Situated within the favorable C6-4A zoning district, a wide variety of uses are permitted. With significant frontage totaling 85 feet along Franklin Street and Benson Place, development sites of this magnitude are a true rarity in the exclusive neighborhood”

  11. I walked by there the other day. There’s new “scaffolding” (not really scaffolding but the kind you see outside buildings) on the walls around the entire open-pit site. So on the walls of both 65 Franklin and 358 Broadway.

    Are both buildings coming down? This looks like the kind of thing you put up before starting demolition work?