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Washburn Gallery Forced to Move From 57th Street as Possible Demolition Threatens Several Galleries

The building in question.COURTESY SQUAREFOOT.COM

The building in question.

COURTESY SQUAREFOOT.COM

With talk of demolition looming, Washburn Gallery will vacate its space at 20 West 57th Street in Manhattan and suspend its exhibition schedule, the gallery told ARTnews. They had been in the location for 25 years.

Limited gallery operations are currently being run out of an office space nearby, where staff can continue to work on acquisitions and private dealing. The temporary suite will operate as a makeshift showroom at times. Later in the year Washburn Gallery will move into a new space in Chelsea, at 177 Tenth Avenue.

The timing of the move coincided with the end of the gallery’s lease, which the landlord, Sheldon Solow, declined to renew. A rep for Solow Realty & Development did not offer any information on the future of the building when reached on the phone, but gallery owner Joan Washburn said in an interview that all signs point to a complete razing of the building.

“It’s real estate in New York,” she said over the phone. “Our lease was up—that’s the key, and that was it.”

Asked how certain she was of a demolition, Washburn said, “He’s not renewing leases, let’s put it that way.”

Other gallery tenants in the building—which is located in the heart of the once-vital 57th Street gallery district, with Marian Goodman, Pace Gallery, and Mary Boone as neighbors—include Laurence Miller Gallery, which has been in his space since 1998, Peter Blum Gallery, a resident since since 2013.

When reached on the phone, Miller said that he has a lease through the summer of 2018 and plans to stay until then—and beyond, if that’s a possibility.

“Everyone is speculating like crazy,” he said, discussing Solow’s plans for the building, which the real estate macher purchased in 2007 for $60 million.

“No one knows what Solow’s up to,” he continued. “It’s hard to know why he never rented out this building. But, ultimately, this building and several others will come down, I would think.” (Several spaces in the building are not currently being leased.)

When reached on the phone at the gallery, a representative from Peter Blum Gallery asked that we contact the owner through email.

Washburn noted that the building is one of many that have been affected by the beefed-up security surrounding Trump Tower, where the First Lady still lives with her son.

When asked if moving to Chelsea was a solution to 57th Street’s Donald Trump problem, Washburn said, “Nothing will solve that, as there’s no solution to Trump.”

“It’s better now because he’s in Washington, though,” she added.

Update, February 8, 5:54 p.m.: David Blum, the director of Peter Blum Gallery, emailed to respond to a query regarding the length of the gallery’s current lease. “With regard to the building, our lease is up this fall and as we have heard several of the buildings on this block will be demolished—including 20 West 57th Street,” he said.

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