This month we take a look at one of SoHo Broadway’s smaller buildings, but with a unique charm all its own. 558 Broadway is a 2-story storefront structure that was originally 4 stories and built in the 1860’s. However, a fire in 1916 demolished the original building and in 1920 it was altered to its present form. In 1973, 558 Broadway became part of the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District. Throughout its history, 558 has served as a retail location in one form or another.
Though one of SoHo Broadway’s smaller buildings, 558 is unique for its being the center of some big alteration and renovation battles in the last decade. In 2010, commercial tenant H&M put in an application for a façade renovation, which was eventually granted, though not without pushback from groups like the Historic Districts Council (HDC). The present structure still retains the asymmetrical I-beam composition that came out of this alteration.
The building was at the center of another alteration debate in 2016 when a proposal was set forward to add 2 extra stories, restoring it back to the original height of the 1860s structure. Once again, the proposal was met with significant pushback. Former HDC employee Barbara Zay provided testimony about the increased the size increase for both 558 Broadway and the adjoining structure on 94-96 Crosby St.:
“Rather than analyzing the intricacies of the proposed design, HDC wishes to make a plea for the denial of this application in favor of retaining the low-rise, historic character of both 558 Broadway and 94-96 Crosby Street. Both this section of Broadway and Crosby Street are defined by their mix of heights, creating interesting urban tableaux that would be unfortunately marred by filling in the air space above this building’s two facades… The loss of so many small-scale buildings in historic districts is an unfortunate trend that diminishes the dynamism of our historic streetscapes and dilutes the pedestrian experience that is so often touted as one of the great benefits of historic district designation…”
Despite the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s approval of these alteration proposals, the renovation never seems to have actually taken place as 558 is still the same 2-story structure.
For years, 558 Broadway was the location of one of the two H&Ms that existed within the corridor, but back in December this building became the new, permanent location of the Museum of Ice Cream. The experiential space is not only adding a new attraction to the district, but also providing a new aesthetic touch to the building with their bright pink flourishes on the already-existing architectural features (they’re not a permanent change but rather a removable covering).