I have often passed 61 Fifth Avenue and wondered about its history and its future.
It has been vacant for awhile, fire destroyed much of it. Recently, 10th Street refugee Danal moved in next door and now #61 is under contract, according to Massey Knakal. We don't know what it will be, but we know what it once was.
Massey Knakal's description says, "The previous tenant was 61 Cafe, a restaurant/bar with dining areas and roof access. Built in 1938, 61 Fifth Avenue was originally the home to Schrafft's restaurant."
the candy window in 1940
The Schrafft's chain demolished the previous building. Here it is being torn down in 1938. According to the verso of the photo, this building went back to the early Dutch days and was part of the Brevoort estate. Minetta Brook once went streaming past. When Schrafft's took over, the March 18, 1938 Times headline said "Restaurant Chain Will Enter Washington Square Area for the First Time."
I wonder if the neighbors were upset. Of course, Schrafft's had already been around for 77 years at that time, but it does force us to think about the way capitalism repeats itself, like a neurotic in the throes of a repetition compulsion. Sometimes, that notion is almost comforting.
In the 1980s, the Schrafft's building was occupied by Texas expatriate fave Lone Star Cafe, complete with giant iguana on the rooftop.
I'd like to see the building restored. Unfortunately, according to MK, "The building is neither landmarked nor within any historic district making the as-of-right development the highest and best use for the property. The development opportunity at 61 Fifth Avenue has vast potential. The location alone sets the site apart as there is tremendous demand in the end-user luxury condominium market in this thriving neighborhood."
And what's the asking price? $17,500,000.
Maybe some modern-day Brevoorts will turn it back into their private mansion. And then, in about 2108, the great-grandchild of Schrafft's and grandchild of Starbucks will claim the property for their Washington Square chain. Until 2208, when someone will lament the passing of that future chain--but we don't have to go that far with the whole "cycle of capitalism" thing, because by 2208 New York City will be controlled by blood-sucking, night-dwelling humanoids.
As we know, they're already among us...
Gossip Girls in front of 61 Fifth