Warburg Marketing’s 127 Fulton Street (42 Ann Street) – “one of the finest, best-restored residential buildings in the Financial District”Friday, February 27th, 2009
|The following article appears on the website for the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center (www.http://www.lowermanhattan.info/). It provides a vivid history of the property at 127 Fulton Street and details on its meticulous restoration and modernization as part of its conversion to the luxury condominium to be known as Compass Lofts Condominium, an exquisite collection of 7 residential condominium lofts with 21st century technology and lifestyle. Warburg Marketing Group is the exclusive selling agent. Sales are expected to begin in early Spring 2009. February 20, 2009|
Rehab Almost Done at 127 Fulton Landmark Building
|It was built in 1892 and landmarked 113 years later. Now the former factory at 127 Fulton Street is on the brink of becoming one of the finest, best-restored residential buildings in the Financial District.The 10-story Keuffel & Esser building was named for the family-run company that built it. Famous among engineers who relied on its products, “K&E” was the brand of the early 20th century for all sorts of drafting materials and instruments — T squares, compasses, measuring tapes, leveling rods, surveying equipment, and even furniture. It was the first American company to manufacture slide rules, and its success helped make Lower Manhattan a commercial capital in the days when industry rivaled finance downtown.The company was founded on Nassau Street by two German immigrants in 1867. Wilhelm Keuffel and Herman Esser built a lucrative business that quickly afforded them a chance to build a stately headquarters on the narrow plot between William and Nassau. They hired fellow expatriates Theodore DeLemos and August Cordes to design the eight-story building, conveniently anchored near the seaport.The architects created a richly detailed Renaissance Revival–style Fulton Street façade with three separate design concepts. The bottom two stories set apart the storefront from the upper levels, clad in cast iron bearing the firm’s name and images of the products, and drawing in natural light through its wide arched windows. The upper two-thirds are built from buff brick and terra cotta, with a giant recessed arched window in its midsection capped by the Keuffel family crest. The top two floors share an angled metal window bay with a decorative cornice — features that earned the building city-landmark status in 2005.K&E survived nearly a century of engineering advancements, but by the early 1970s, as electric calculators became standard, the firm had all but gone under and was finally absorbed by a California company in the 1980s. It vacated the 127 Fulton Street building in 1961, renting its former bustling headquarters to various tenants, from wholesalers to realtors to carpenters.
Then in 2004, developer, construction manager, and “part-time architect” Andy Kettler bought the building with a partner, aiming to convert it to luxury condominiums. They saw beyond its dilapidated state and decided to invest in its potential as a historic downtown skyscraper — with special attention paid to restoring its distinct details, while incorporating “green” construction elements.
“We’ve benefited by ‘following the building,’” says Kettler. “We looked at the original intent of the architects, the building’s structural elements and unique details, and it’s led to better design decisions.”
Kettler says that he has salvaged as many of the original building components for reuse — such as the cast-iron columns from the ground floor — and made a significant investment to replicate the original mahogany window frames on both the Fulton and Ann Street sides. Another concerted effort has been restoring the 10-foot-tall, brick arched ceilings on the upper floors (like those in subway tunnels), which underscore the soundness of the original construction.
Two of the biggest parts of Kettler’s conversion was replacing the original Otis elevator, which he says is so old it’s made partly of wood and was installed before the parts were numbered, and transforming the ninth floor add-on into a duplex apartment. Two new elevators have been installed, and the new top-floor duplex will get north and south outdoor terraces.Another key design component has been, according to Kettler, to make “each floor as much its own home as possible, so you don’t have to go into your neighbor’s space to access water or power supply or drainage.” That decision has led to separate plumbing units, boilers, electric wiring, and meters for each of the seven units.
With the help of contractor Red Hook Construction, the newly leveled floors are outfitted with radiant heat beneath the white-oak floorboards (from responsibly harvested Appalachian trees). This low-energy but very efficient heating system eliminates radiators throughout the loft-style apartments, and is made more effective with laminated windows and soybean-based thermal insulation in the walls.
Kettler says the first temporary certificate of occupancy is expected this spring, though work will continue on some floors for a few more months. He also plans to coordinate façade restoration with the city’s matching funds — part of phase two of the Fulton Street Corridor beautification project. New retail on the ground and second floor will be part of that investment, though a tenant has not yet been signed.