It’s no secret: gbNYC loves us some 11 Times Square. There is ample proof of this. But while it’s easy to cheer for FXFOWLE’s LEED Gold office tower, it has been hard to be optimistic for its prospects of late, as the Times Square submarket has teetered and the building has scraped for tenants. The good news for 11 Times Square, as the Wall Street Journal’s Anton Troianovski reports today, is that the building has secured a big-ticket tenant, with another signing seemingly in the offing. The weird news is the identity of that first tenant — Toronto-based developer Jerry Shefsky, who plans to open an aquarium on the building’s lower floors. By comparison, the news that law firm Proskauer Rose has some interest in a lease seems kind of boring. I mean, obviously it’s good news for 11 Times Square, but will the lawyers be bringing penguins? Odds are against, right?
While Shefsky’s agreement isn’t finalized yet, he told WSJ that he could begin building out his space as soon as April of 2010, with a September 2011 opening for his aquarium in mind. “The proposed aquarium’s unusual placement inside a skyscraper means it’ll be different from most big-ticket fish exhibits,” Troianovski writes. “Preliminary plans call for about half of the floor space to be taken up by water exhibits, Mr. Shefsky said, while the rest will be occupied by things like a pirate museum and educational displays about the marine world.” It’s, obviously, kind of a strange idea, given the general absence anywhere in the world of skyscraper-based aquariums (aquaria?). But while Shefsky’s vision seems at least somewhat hedged to the exigencies of being in a (freaking) 40-story office building — the tanks are slated to hold 600,000 gallons of water, relative to 8 million gallons at Atlanta’s new aquarium — the difficulty of developing an aquarium in Times Square might just make some commercial sense. (The pirate museum is another thing entirely) Given the wealth of less-than-discerning tourists in the area — I base this statement on the enduring existence of Bubba Gump’s Room-Temperature Fried Seafood Emporium and the Hard Rock Cafe — an actual, actually cool aquarium could make some sense.
Of course the (likely very large) energy demands attendant with even a scaled-down aquarium probably will put Energy Star certification out of reach for 11 Times Square, but given their rough last year it’s dubious they’re concerned with that right now. For the time being, it’s good to see a gbNYC-approved building getting up off the mat. Even if it’s happening in possibly the strangest way possible.