When Lawrence A. Wien assembled a partnership to purchase the architecturally notable structure in 1952, it already had played a highly visible role in the growth of two signature American industries: automobiles and entertainment.
Today, under the continuing guidance of Wien & Malkin's Supervisory Services, the Fisk Building, at 250 West 57th Street, is being refocused and repositioned. Building enhancements and aggressive, organized marketing are helping it take maximum advantage of traditional 57th Street uses and a powerful transformation in its Columbus Circle district.
Cushman & Wakefield (C&W), one of the world's largest real estate service firms, has been brought in as new managing and leasing agent, as a more than $20 million modernization and enhancement program nears completion.
"The repositioning of the Fisk Building is a classic example of the Wien & Malkin commitment to long-term ownership and continual value enhancement," observes Anthony E. Malkin, senior director of supervisory services for Wien & Malkin and president of W&M Properties. "As our investors begin their second half-century of ownership of this sterling property, we're proactively taking steps to ensure the building will enjoy the maximum benefits of its changing environment."
The half-million-square-foot Fisk Building - named for what was then the Fisk Rubber Company, a major tire manufacturer - was built in the early 1920s in close proximity to several of the city's cultural treasures, including Carnegie Hall, the American Fine Arts Society building and the beautiful Osborne Apartments, now a national landmark.
Combining elements of Greek Revival and Renaissance style, the 26-story block-long structure, with elegant ground-floor showrooms, quickly became a centerpiece for the burgeoning auto industry, with the headquarters of General Motors nearby.
"With Time Warner's new world headquarters rising only a block away, interest in 250 West 57th Street is gathering momentum," says Barry Zeller, senior director of C&W, in charge of the Fisk Building. "The capital improvements, along with our marketing strategy directed to leading brokers and credit-worthy tenants, are bringing 250 West 57th Street into the spotlight in Columbus Circle."
Stretching from Broadway to Eighth Avenue along the wide 57th Street corridor, the Fisk Building - in Mr. Zeller's view - "is at the crossroads of the new West Side. It's in the heart of a district that's attracting worldwide attention."
George Fabian, the building's general manager, says the renovation will be completed in early fall. The improvements include a remodeled lobby with a new security desk, new entry doors, improved air conditioning, upgraded flooring, and a computerized directory; ten new elevator cabs with marble paneling; new operable thermal pane windows throughout the building, new carpeting and the addition of air conditioning for the corridors.
In addition, Mr. Fabian notes, 250 West 57th Street has its own subway entrance, which also has been extensively refurbished. The entrance leads commuters to the Columbus Circle station, one of the city's busiest, with eight subway lines.
By the time the Fisk Building was acquired by Mr. Wien's partnership, a transformation from the auto industry had taken place on the West Side and the building had become populated predominantly by the entertainment industry and related businesses. Many well known personalities office there, including the NBC Today Show's Al Roker, who bases his production company at 250 West 57th Street.
As an indication of the Fisk Building's ongoing cachet in the entertainment world, RZO, a firm known around the world for business services to singers and musicians, leased a 12,000-square-foot office this year. RZO's international client roster includes the Rolling Stones, Madonna, U2, Sting and Sheryl Crow.
"Several factors contributed to RZO's decision to choose the Fisk Building," says Mr. Zeller. "The building's reputation and comprehensive modernization, combined with the proximity of Time Warner and Hearst, and the growing reputation and appeal of West 57th Street, all add up to a very potent combination."
To capitalize on those factors, C&W is making use of its extensive international relationships as part of a vigorous outreach program.
"We're emphasizing the West 57th Street address because that's where the recognition will be in the international community," Mr. Zeller explains. "Our message is: 'come join us at the crossroads of New York's most vibrant and diverse business district, where not only Carnegie Hall, but Lincoln Center and Central Park are just up the street.' Few buildings have the location, history, character, and all the modern amenities of the Fisk Building."