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Discovering New York City: Flatiron District

May 14th, 2014 / Author: rbielsky

flatiron district of nyc

Photo Credit: Marco Arment via Compfight cc

New York’s Flatiron District is one of the most dynamic and changing areas of the city. Even the boundaries seem to move, as no one can agree on where they sit. Flatiron is primarily a commercial neighborhood. There are little residential options. The spaces are moderately expensive because many are luxury buildings with brand new amenities. There are a few walk-up buildings, which are more affordable, but harder to find.

The Flatiron District was given its name around 1985. Before then it was often referred to as the “Toy District” because of its numerous toy and clothing manufacturers, and for a short while the “Photo District” until real estate agents began referring to it as Flatiron. Like many New York City neighborhoods, it is named after an iconic building, a triangular 22-story skyscraper at 175 Fifth Avenue. The Flatiron building (officially called the Fuller Building, but nicknamed because of its physical resemblance to an old clothes-iron) was built in 1902 with French and Italian influences.

Back in the late 1800’s, Flatiron was one of America’s most prestigious retail centers. In the 1950’s, the neighborhood changed into a creative, artsy district. Photographers flocked to the area because of the cheap space with plenty of lighting. Fashion labels and designers soon followed. In a city where businesses were traditionally segmented, Flatiron became one of the first neighborhoods to blend industries.

The District is located on a part of Manhattan where the bedrock schist is deeper underground that other parts of the city. Because of this, zoning laws were originally in place to limit building height. It’s not uncommon to see buildings as short as three to six stories on the side streets.

Notable buildings in the Flatiron District include the Met Life Tower, the New York Life Building, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court, and Baruch College.

madison square park nyc

Photo Credit: Jeffrey via Compfight cc

Since the 2000s, the District is home to many publishers and advertising agencies. Web-related companies and technology startups have also taken residence. Back during the dot-com explosion in the 90s, the area became known as “Silicon Alley” because of the plethora of digital media, artistry, gaming, software, ecommerce, and other high-growth, creative businesses. The area doesn’t have a corporate feel like you would find in Midtown/Downtown neighborhoods.

The neglected warehouses and manufacturing buildings were modernized into office spaces while retaining many of the qualities of the original low-rise, cast-iron, gothic appeal. You will find detailed columns, exposed brick walls, and high, tin ceilings.

The area is celebrated for its first class restaurants, diversity of retail businesses, and Madison Square Park, one of the most popular parks in the city. The Park is 6.2 acres of flourishing gardens that was renovated from a barren emptiness in 2001. Here you will find free concerts, art exhibitions, and cultural events. As a business district, the weekends are a bit quieter than the weeks, but the area has a lively bar scene.

new york city commercial realtyWritten By Robert Bielsky Owner of Manhattan Commercial Realty

Mr. Bielsky holds a national reputation as a leader in the commercial real estate industry. His market expertise, creative deal making skills, and keen knowledge of the art of negotiation have maintained his position at the forefront of the industry.

As the founder and Chairman of Manhattan Commercial Realty he leads one of the most powerful negotiating teams in NYC. With his leadership mCr has maintained a strict dedication to tenant representation, and successfully negotiated over $1 billion in real estate transactions since its inception in 1982.

He is frequently called upon by clients, fellow brokers and industry experts for his opinions on complex litigation, lease negotiations, and to provide clarity on intricate industry matters.

Mr. Bielsky has been a keynote speaker on a multitude of real estate panels and has recently retired as an NCAA Football Referee after a long and distinguished career.

He also is the son of the legendary partisan leader Tuvia Bielski, who led the largest armed rescue of Jews by Jews in WW2. His actions were depicted in the movie Defiance (2009), starring Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jaime Bell.

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