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Amazon opens ‘tech hub’ on landmark NYC retail site

New York City Mayor Eric Adams delivered remarks at  the official opening of Amazon’s New York tech hub. (Photo by Hollis Johnson)
New York City Mayor Eric Adams delivered remarks at the official opening of Amazon’s New York tech hub. (Photo by Hollis Johnson)

The former home of one of New York City’s most iconic department stores has been transformed into a state-of-the-art modern office building for an online giant.

Amazon has expanded its Big Apple footprint with the official opening of a “tech hub” at the former Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Ave. in Manhattan.

Amazon undertook an extensive, years-long restoration and renovation of the 600,000-sq.-ft. building, which was designated an official New York City landmark in 2007, to bring it back to its original glory.The site, which Amazon bought  from WeWork in 2020 just before the pandemic began, is now home to more than 2,000 Amazon employees.

Internally, the building has been dubbed, ‘Hank,’ a term for a measure of yarn that honors the building’s roots as a clothing department store. The thirteen-story building boasts new conference rooms, lounge areas, training rooms, and a team suite for collaborative working sessions, along with desk space for more individually-focused work.

To adapt the building from a department store to a modern office, an eleven-story staircase was carved out into the middle of each floor, helping to promote connectivity across teams. It is topped by a glowing skylight called ‘the lantern,’ which brings light from the roof all the way through the building. (The   exterior retains Lord & Taylor signature sign on the 39th St. side.)

“It’s been 3 ½ years since we first acquired the Lord & Taylor building, and we feel honored to be a part of the journey restoring and reimagining the next phase of life for this historic piece of the city,” said John Schoettler, Amazon’s VP of global real estate and facilities. “Adaptive reuse and converting older buildings is always complex — doing so with a designated landmark is a special undertaking. We purposely invest in urban cores where Amazon employees can work, shop, eat, play, and support local businesses, rather than building a closed-off campus.”

With more than 35,000 sq. ft.  of dedicated retail space planned for the first floor, Amazon’s new hub also creates opportunities for businesses and new restaurants in Midtown Manhattan, which was hit particularly hard during the pandemic, noted Amazon.  Additionally, Amazon’s community commitment includes a partnership with City University of New York (CUNY) to provide class and event space for 25 associated colleges. 

Amazon leaders were joined by local New York policymakers, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, to celebrate the grand opening and officially cut the ribbon.

“This landmark building started life as one of New York’s first department stores, its design and construction heralding the arrival of the fashionable Fifth Avenue shopping district that was just then developing north of 34th Street,” said NYC Landmarks Preservation commission chair Sarah Carroll. “Thanks to the tremendous care and attention that has gone into this sensitive restoration, the former Lord and Taylor Building at 424 Fifth Avenue is now primed to lead Midtown’s next phase of innovation, proof that New York remains the best place for companies looking to do business, and a dramatic demonstration of the integral role preservation can play in contributing to the continued economic success of our city."

“Amazon you have been just amazing,” said Mayor Adams. “The way you have brought 18,000 jobs to our region. This new initiative here with 2,000 employees coming in three days a week…This ribbon cutting here today is more than just a symbolic gesture…it is cutting through the inertia that prevents us from being the city that we ought to be.”


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