The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Turning The Flatiron Building Into Condos Is The Easy Way Out

The building should be kept an office building to preserve the history of its neighborhood.
Manhattan’s Flatiron Building.
Torch Photo / Malak Kassem

The Flatiron Building, located on Fifth Avenue and Broadway in Manhattan has been purchased by the Brodsky Organization, a real estate company. It is set to be turned into condos and apartment rentals within the next three years. 

The Flatiron Building dates back to 1902, about 30 years before both the Empire State and Chrysler buildings were constructed. The building was initially called the Fuller Building, after George Fuller, who initiated its construction for his own company.

The Flatiron Building shaped New York in many ways. According to The New York Times, the building housed offices for decades, particularly in the publishing industry. In fact, the last tenant of the Flatiron was the Macmillan Publishing Company. They ended their contract right before the pandemic. 

The fact of the matter is that the Flatiron Building is, in fact, old. The facility isn’t up to date to fit the needs of the modern-day workforce. The pandemic changed office needs even further. 

Time Magazine published an article discussing what companies are looking for in today’s market. After the pandemic, it became clear that workers weren’t coming back into the office five days a week. Offices need to be redesigned to fit the hybrid model. 

In addition, companies no longer need offices as a space for people to do their individual work. It has been proven that it can be done at home. The office needs to be a place where co-workers can come together to collaborate and take advantage of teamwork. 

Rather than eliminating office space and turning it into residence because of immediate return on investment, it’s important to consider alternative options that would preserve the nature of the Flatiron District as a whole. 

Firstly, the Flatiron Building being an office space has been influential to the neighborhood at large. The most direct evidence is that the Flatiron Building is that the District is literally named after the structure. If we keep turning office buildings into residences, then vibrant hubs for business and entrepreneurship, such as the Flatiron District will slowly turn into quiet residential areas. This is detrimental to the economy. 

Just because the Flatiron Building is an aging structure, that does not mean that the interior has to reflect pre-pandemic office needs. The Time Magazine article illustrates how this can be done by following a lead example of a company in the Flatiron District itself. Instead of having isolated office spaces for each individual or department, it was decided that an open space would benefit the work atmosphere. 

Having an open space where people can collectively brainstorm ideas and discuss objectives allows for a better in-person office experience. Having an open space means turning private offices into communal office space. This is much cheaper than transforming offices into apartments. It will also most likely be less time consuming than the 3 years it’s projected to take to turn the interior into apartments. 

This solution will preserve the Flatiron Building, not only in its exterior form, but also as its initial use of office space and to boost the city’s economy in a way that expands beyond real estate.

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