May 11, 2018

8 PROSPECT PLACE

Today, a deep dive into 8 Prospect Place, a long-gone yet very significant building in the history of Tudor City.
8 Prospect Place, around 1927.
A four-story rowhouse constructed in the 1870s, it remains a single-family dwelling for the next fifty years, despite the growing industrialization along the East River that sends the neighborhood into decline and residents fleeing. In 1925, the building is purchased by one Joseph P. Zurla for $27,000.

Two years later, Fred French's agents sweep through the area, buying the entire stretch of Prospect Place in preparation for Tudor City ‒ except for No. 8. The agents offer Zurla $50,000 for the property, which he turns down, with subsequent offers up to $120,000 also refused. (Zurla holds out for $150,000, which French refuses to pay). So the larger lot ‒ the current site of No. 2 ‒ remains undeveloped.

Then the Depression hits, and virtually all new construction in Manhattan ceases. The idea of obtaining the property cools. Zurla makes alterations to the house, turning it into seven apartments. Fred French remakes part of the vacant lot into tennis courts, a publicity bonanza, if not a financial one.

Both French and Zurla die in 1936. World War II intervenes, stalling any thought of future development. After the war, the French Company finally purchases the property from Zurla's heirs for a sum "very close to the original purchase price." Prospect Place is renamed Tudor City Place in 1947. The hold-out is demolished around 1954, and the construction of No. 2 begins. It opens in 1956.

Above, 8 Prospect Place in a view looking east, with No. 5 looming behind it. Below, a closer view of the house, circa 1930.

The bright side of the stand-off is that it gives Tudor City tennis courts for 20 years. This eastern view shows the courts, along with No. 5 and hold-out No. 8.

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