The Landmarks Committee of Community Board 8 Manhattan voted yesterday evening on an application to approve the work on a restored bank building on Madison Avenue that will be the new home of Hermès International S.A. in New York.
The France-based high-luxury company signed a lease agreement last year and is expected to open in the new location in 2022.
The new location consists of three interconnected structures in the Upper East Side historic district: 706-708 Madison Avenue, southwest corner of Madison and 63rd Street, 702-704 Madison Avenue, adjacent to 706-708 and 22 East 63rd Street, around the corner from 706-708 Madison Avenue.
The 706-708 address is a Neo-Federal style bank building designed by Frank Easton and constructed in 1922.
Hermès current flagship store sits one block south, at 691 Madison Avenue.
Hermès is being represented by Higgins Quasebarth & Partners LLC, a property preservation company that has advised private, corporate, government and institutional clients in the preservation and rehabilitation of historic properties.
Cas Stachelberg is a partner with the firm, and he discussed during the virtual meeting some of the renovations to be completed by the architectural firm, Spacesmith, to the historic bank building.
For example, the main entry to 706 Madison Avenue currently has a wood door and the plan is to replace the wood door with a paneled glass paired door so that the store’s interior will be transparent and visible to passerby.
Also, the other piece of the work at the entrance is the placement of a new sign. Presently there is a sign that says “Bank of New York” carved into a marble panel. The proposal is to put a new marble panel in front of that, not removing the historic “Bank of New York” sign but actually installing a new marble panel with stainless steel letters that reads “HERMES.”
In addition, the iconic Hermès Cavalier sits atop the current flagship at 691 Madison Avenue. The restoration plan calls for the installation of a new cavalier at 706 Madison.
“Hermès moved [into 691 Madison Avenue] in 1999 and at the time they proposed and had approved by the [Landmarks Preservation] Commission the installation of their cavalier, which is an emblem of all their flagship stores around the world,” said Stachelberg.
He added, “This sculpture on the roof would be in keeping with historical advertising methods and would be in keeping with the commercial character of Madison Avenue.”
There was some discussion among the Landmarks Committee members about whether there should be a new sign in front of the historic “Bank of New York” sign. But the committee didn't want to delay progress on the overall renovation work, so the committee’s co-chair, Jane Parshall, asked the 10-member committee to split the vote into two resolutions: to approve the renovation work, exempting the signage, and to approve by retaining the original signage.
On the first resolution, the vote was unanimous, 10-0, while on the second resolution the vote was 9-1, which means that the committee doesn't want a new sign blocking the original historic signage.
Community Board 8’s Chair, Alida Camp, signaled her approval of the restoration plan.
“I would expect Hermès to do something refined and elegant, and they certainly did,” she said.