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Posted by: Peter Coy on May 21, 2009
If these walls could talk …
A new high-end condo building on Eleventh Avenue in Manhattan’s West Chelsea section has a history that says a lot about the changes in New York City over the decades. It was once the headquarters of “the Mint Products Company, manufacturer of mint confections,” employing “125 hands,” according to an article in The New York Times that appeared in 1916. That year was the year the company moved out to Long Island City. Mint Products Company made Life Savers candy, which had been invented in 1912. (**See below for more fun trivia.)
The next time the building appeared on the pop-culture radar screen was around the 1980s, when it became the home of a notorious gay leather bar called The Spike. A gay-oriented tourist guide enthused about The Spike: “Whip out those uniforms, don your cop cap and get to where the action is, baby! Looking to score? Well, look no further.”
A pair of p.r. specialists, Gianfranco Chicco and Robert Chandler, bought the building at 120 Eleventh Avenue in 2000 with the intent of turning it into the headquarters of their healthcare public relations firm, Chandler Chicco Agency. But fate had other plans for the structure. West Chelsea was starting to become more family-friendly, with the Chelsea Piers sports complex nearby and restaurants sprouting up. Chicco and Chandler took the hint and formed a company, Puisssance Enterprises, to develop the building into luxury condos: five lofts ($4 million to $6 million each) and a pair of triplex penthouses ($17 million apiece). They’re on sale now.
**Life Savers trivia. According to Wikipedia, the candy was invented in 1912 by the father of the poet Hart Crane. The Life Saver name was chosen because the ring shape resembled that of life preservers, which were much on people’s minds because of the sinking of the Titanic that year.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.