Iconic ‘Sohotel’ on the Bowery Hits the Market as $55M Development Opportunity

Posted on: November 11th, 2020 at 5:00 am by

One of the longest running hotel properties in the city is now on the market for an astronomical ask.

Sohotel, the 94-key hotel at the corner Broome Street and the Bowery, is currently making the rounds as a “prime corner development site.” Asking price for the 42,000 square-foot property is $54.99 million.

Despite the positioning as a development opportunity – 87,000 buildable square-feet – zoning is the caveat. This assemblage at 341-347 Broome Street resides in the Special Little Italy District, which limits heights to 85 feet and with frontage mainly of masonry.

The Sohotel listing doesn’t bode well, either, for the bevy of nightlife businesses wrapping the ground level (Casa Bocado, Randolph Beer).

Nor for the rich history.

Indeed, this is an iconic corner; a hotel of some sort has been operating continuously on this spot since at least 1805. The four-story building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in March 1986, but is not itself a preserved city landmark.

A quick lesson from the company website:

Aerial views suggest that [341-347 Broome is] composed of a number of 19th-century buildings strung together. The corner portion seems to be the oldest: It was probably constructed around 1840 as a replacement for the old Military and Civic Hotel, a wooden structure that had been a meeting house for the Equal Rights wing of the Democratic Party. According to Alvin Harlow in his 1931 book, Old Bowery Days, the building was remodeled with a fourth story and given its present appearance in 1866 (at the time it was known as Westchester House). In coming decades, as the Bowery grew increasingly downtrodden in character, the hotel became a common destination for unfortunates such as John P. Mount, a dry goods employee who killed himself there in 1897 after losing his job of 20 years.

But, as The Occidental (a name it had acquired by 1874), the hotel did enjoy a burst of raffish glory as Big Tim Sullivan’s headquarters from 1900 to 1913. It would be impossible to encapsulate Sullivan’s diverse activities, but during his peak years he was known variously as ward boss, Tammany Hall leader, state senator, theatrical impresario, real estate baron, stager of illegal prizefights, saloon owner and, in the words of a 1901 New York Tribune profile, “professional politician.”

His connections with the world of vice and crime were as legendary as his generosity, and the lavish dinners he hosted at The Occidental drew the likes of future governor Al Smith alongside John L. Sullivan, the boxer.

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