American Broadcasting Company Selling UWS Campus to Developer Silverstein Properties

READ about this in TODAY’S NEW YORK TIMES

On April 6th, 2018, after 70 years in television, and nearly 40 headquartered on the Upper West Side, the COMMERCIAL OBSERVER and THE REAL DEAL reported that as part of the pending ABC-21st Century Fox merger, ABC parent company, the Walt Disney Company, solicited bids and now Silverstein Properties has surpassed the Related Companies and is in contract to acquire their UWS campus.  The deal, reportedly in excess of $1 Billion, will leave many building sites in play on the Upper West Side.  On April 9th, 2018 GLOBE STREET reported that the sale includes 77 West 66th Street and 47 West 66th Street (see map and details below).  According to the New York Post, their intent appears to be to relocate to 4 Hudson Square.  Further reading in the WEST SIDE SPIRIT.

The sale is expected to close the week of July 9th, 2018.  It will include the buildings on the West 66-West 67th Street block, but leave out the First Battery Armory “ESPN” building on the south side of West 66th Street.

The American Broadcasting Company began as “NBC Blue”–an experimental subset of “NBC Red”–and went independent as a radio station in 1943 by government order.  ABC began television productions in 1948, and perennially ranked third out of the “Big Three” networks behind both Columbia Broadcasting System’s CBS and the National Broadcast Corporation’s NBC.

In 1966, ABC set its headquarters at 1330 Avenue of the Americas, between 53rd and 54th Streets in an Emery Roth and Sons building.  After finally ascending to the top spot in the Nielsen Prime Time Rankings in 1976-77, thanks to shows such as The Six Million Dollar Man, Charlie’s Angels, and Happy Days, ABC executives began plans to develop an Upper West Side campus.  ABC finally consolidated its headquarters on the UWS in 1989 with the opening of the 22-story L-shaped building at 77 West 66th Street.

Read about ABC’s own take on the evolution of their UWS footprint from their November 1986 employee newsletter, CAPITAL CITIES/ABC INK.

The areas outlined in RED in the map above indicate properties currently owned by ABC.  South of 66th Street is the former First Battery Armory, currently used by ESPN, that building is excluded from the sale package.  The Upper West Side has many zoning protections that apply depending on Historic District designation, Individual Landmark designation, contextual zoning and Special Purpose District.  Some of these apply to these properties.

In the map above, ORANGE denotes an individual landmark (the First Battery Armory at 56 West 66th Street).  For context, the GREEN area is a scenic landmark (Central Park), and blocks in GOLD are part of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District.  This Historic District is comprised of hundreds of buildings.  Three of them are within ABC’s Campus.  These include:

7 West 66th Street24 West 67th Street, and 30 West 67th Street, built as ABC’s “Broadcasting, Operations & Engineering Building”. 30 West 67th Street has realized its full FAR potential and cannot develop further with a zoning lot merger or easement.

Buildings within Historic Districts may be altered under certain circumstances within the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Rules.  For example, often times a rooftop or rear yard addition is allowed, but with restrictions.  Demolitions within historic districts are very rare.  Demolition of Individual Landmarks that have not been structurally compromised are nearly unheard of.  Thus, the aforementioned addresses should be protected under the law.

The buildings owned by ABC which do not fall within the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District and are not individual landmarks are:

  • 47 West 66th Street, Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, 1985 (television studios aka the Barbara Walters Building); 14 stories.
  • 77 West 66th Street, Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, 1986-1989 (ABC Inc. Headquarters); 22 stories. This building has realized its full FAR potential and cannot develop further without a zoning lot merger or easement.
  • 147 Columbus Avenue (NE Corner at W. 66th), Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, 1990-1992 (ABC Building); 10 stories.
  • 149-155 Columbus Avenue (SE Corner at W. 67th), Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, 1981 (WABC Channel 7 Building aka 7 Lincoln Square); 6 stories.

Thus far, no plans have been filed, and Silverstein Properties is still assembling financing for the purchase.  In addition to the ABC corporate headquarters, local affiliate WABC7 is onsite with all of its operations and Eyewitness News Broadcasts.  World News with David Muir, LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, The Chew, (cancelled May 23rd, ceasing production in June), The View and some soap operas are also filmed on this block.  Relocating these productions will take time and planning.  Variety reports that ABC may be in a lease-back scenario for up to five years.

This block falls within the C4-7 zoning district which has an R-10 equivalent, and there are no contextual zoning height limitations which means there is potential for large-scale residential development.  This varies between side streets and avenue exposure.

LANDMARK WEST! will keep this page updated with developments and additional information, as it becomes available.

Read through our blog updates below for more history on this critical zoning matter.

Breaking News

Breaking News

The news picked up on our original reports from April.  Today's West Side Rag as well as The New York Times followed up about the sale of ABC's UWS holdings to Larry Silverstein.  The latest news: ABC is selling BOTH of its UWS campuses.  The one between West 66th and...

T-minus 5 years

T-minus 5 years

VARIETY reports that the sale of the American Broadcasting Company due to close this week (week of July 9th, 2018) will include a clause for ABC to lease-back space for up to five years.  Given the quick pace of events it would take any owner time to prepare new...

ABC deal to close next week!

ABC deal to close next week!

The The Real Deal reports that Silverstein properties has attained $800M in loans from Deutsche Bank (which itself has been in the news lately) towards the over $1 billion price tag for his purchase of the 2.6 acre assembly of ABC properties on the Upper West Side....

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Contact Information

Sean Khorsandi
Executive Director
LANDMARK WEST!
LandmarkWest@LandmarkWest.org
45 West 67th Street New York, NY 10023
212-496-8110

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