70 Years Late, Name Change for an Overlooked Tribeca Block

At the southern corner of White Street and 6th Avenue, the street sign gives both street names. But the city officially only knows that block, between Franklin and White Streets, as 6th Avenue. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Oct. 01, 2015

Hardly anyone calls 6th Avenue by its official name, Avenue of the Americas. But that was no comfort for developer DDG when they recently learned that, decades ago, the city forgot to rename the very first block of 6th Avenue, where their building is set to rise.

The residential project, to be built on two narrow, oddly shaped former parking lots, and the only building on that block, has been called 100 Franklin Street throughout its city approval process. That’s a fine address for a new building. But what a marketing coup if it had the moniker of “1 Avenue of the Americas.”

New building addresses are verified at a division of the Manhattan Borough President’s office and it was there that the developer’s representatives got the disappointing news of the apparent error. Needing Community Board 1’s approval for the one-block name change, they came to Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee to plead their case.

“In the process of getting this oversight corrected we’re here to ask for your support,” Zulekha Inayat, DDG’s development manager on the project, told the committee.

She did not specifically say that the developer was after the prestigious “Number One” Avenue of the Americas address. Rather, the discussion went like this, between Elizabeth Lewinsohn, the committee’s chair, DDG’s Inayat and Mark Thompson, a lobbyist for the developer.

Elizabeth Lewinsohn: “Currently, [the address] is 100 Franklin Street?”

Inayat: “Currently, that’s the address.”

Lewinsohn: “So, if you were going to rename it, what would be the address?”

Inayat: “The address I believe hasn’t been completely ratified yet…”

Mark Thompson (interrupting): “We have to change the street first before we can even do the address.”

Lewinsohn: “Ok, the first building is 1 Avenue of the Americas or whatever it is, what are you going to be?”

Thompson: “Once this is done, we would be given a range of [odd] numbers, from 1 to 7 of Avenue of the Americas.”

A range of numbers? For committee member Bruce Ehrmann, the developer’s unstated choice was clear. “Who wouldn’t want 1 Avenue of the Americas?” he said later.

In 1929, 6th Avenue was first extended to White Street and later that year the final one-block portion, between White and Franklin, was completed. But in 1945, when 6th Avenue was renamed Avenue of the Americas, the city forgot to include that block.

Now, 70 years later, board members were told that if they approved the change the City Council would go along with it, and the last official vestige of 6th Avenue would be gone. After much discussion about whether the addition of a new number on the street would jive with the building numbers to the north, the committee (and later the full board) voted its approval.

But first there was a request for comment by anyone in the room who lived nearby.

“I don’t care either way,” said a White Street resident who was at the meeting for another issue. “We’re all going to call it 6th Avenue.”