The 1,428-foot-tall 111 West 57th Street, the latest addition to Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row, is finally on track for completion later this year. Designed by SHoP Architects, the residential supertall is clad in dazzling terra-cotta, glass, and bronze ornamental work that accentuates its pencil-thin profile towering over Central Park. Already, the building has become an iconic part of the New York skyline. And, because this is 2021, it seems its owners are pivoting to the blockchain and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
In an interview with Bloomberg TV last night, May 24, Todd Morley, co-founder of the global blockbuster financial services company Guggenheim Partners, announced that he was all-in on cryptocurrencies and was looking to build a “blockchain tower” in Midtown Manhattan. Morley laid out an ambitious plan for a tower that would act as a beacon and emit a free-to-access wireless network that, once connected to, would allow users to trade cryptocurrencies. He also said that the tower would contain the world’s largest museum dedicated to NFTs, though it’s unclear what exactly such a museum would hold, as NFTs can be used to represent everything from digital art to viral videos to “cyber weed”; they’re just proof of ownership stored on a blockchain. No curators or other arts professionals for the project have been announced at the time of writing.
Morley is the current chairman of the Overline Network, a company that promises interoperability between all extant cryptocurrencies through a standardized token called Emblems. Overline has partnered with 111 West 57th Street developer JDS Development Group on the wireless network (which will also allow users to trade Emblems) and the NFT museum. Overline CEO Patrick McConlogue reportedly said that the two companies were looking to bring such networking capabilities to other skyscrapers across New York City. Work on the pilot project is, according to Morley, supposed to begin at the end of this year.
Although other outlets have reported that Morley wants to build a new blockchain tower, his use of the same renderings shown elsewhere for 111 West 57th Street, the address, and involvement of JDS Development all indicate that it is the same nearly complete tower alluded to previously.
The project, originally slated for completion in 2020 but pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic, had been bubbling since 2013 when JDS Development purchased the landmarked Steinway Hall (and associated air rights), which the tower now rises adjacent to. Although not officially complete yet and staring down a cooling condo market, the building’s 60 ultra-luxury units have been selling at a steady clip so far.
AN has reached out to both SHoP and JDS Development for comment and will update this article accordingly.