The controversy continues over plans by a group of developers, including Israel’s El-Ad Properties, to close the historic Clock Tower, which sits atop 346 Broadway in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood to the public. The El-Ad Group‘s plans include placing a new luxury penthouse on top of the building.
A group of preservationists have filed suit to try and stop the changes.
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Peebles Corporation and El-Ad Group bought the building from New York City in May 2014 for $160 million and the two were subsequently granted permission from the local Landmarks Preservation Commission into luxury condominiums. But locals were left concerned as to the future of the iconic clock, atop the 14-story building since the 19th Century.
“The loss of the New York Life Tower Clock would be devastating, ” said Christopher DeSantis, author of “Clocks of New York” and a plaintiff in the suit told the NY Daily News. “It’s a living architectural fossil, a last vestige of a by-gone era to be treasured and preserved.”
“What’s next?” said Thomas Bernardin of Save America’s Clocks, a company dedicated to preserving public timepieces and another of the plaintiffs. “The sale of the observation deck of the Empire State Building for use as a billionaire’s private barbecue patio? Will Central Park be sold off as a real estate developer’s private garden?”
The developers also plan to upgrade the clock’s manual winding mechanism with a new electronic one, which also has traditionalists concerned.
For decades now, Marvin Schneider, 75, and Forest Markowitz, 63, two retired city workers, have taken the responsibility on themselves for hand-winding the clock.