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A Legendary Recording Studio Bucks the Condo Trend

Bill Morris in Legal/Financial on September 8, 2017

Midtown, Manhattan

Not Another Condo

Avatar Studios, in a former Con Ed plant, will live on as a recording studio (image via Google Maps)

Sept. 8, 2017

The list of New York City buildings being demolished to make way for condominium apartments seems to grow by the day – movie theaters, hospitals, night clubs, tenements, parking garages, gas stations, recording studios. Developers can’t seem to tear them down fast enough. Now for a ray of good news. Avatar Studios, formerly known as the Power Station – where Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, David Bowie, the cast of “Hamilton” and countless others have recorded hit songs – has been spared demolition and conversion to a condo by a unique group of buyers.

After nearly two years on the market, the storied recording studio on West 53rd Street, originally a Con Ed power plant, has been purchased for $25 million by a consortium headed by the Boston-based Berklee School of Music. The city of New York is kicking in $6 million, and after a renovation and expansion, the studio will continue to operate commercially as Power Station at BerkleeNYC, the New York Times reports. There will be additional offerings, including educational programs, performances, and resources for local musicians. 

The 33,000-square-foot complex off 10th Avenue, is one of the last full-scale recording studios left in Manhattan – the only one big enough to accommodate a full orchestra or a Broadway cast album. Many of the city’s legendary recording studios are gone, including the Hit Factory, the Magic Shop, and Manhattan Sound Recordings, but the Power Station has now managed to buck the inexorable condo-ization trend. While the news might make developers blue, it’s making musicians ecstatic. Sting, who recorded part of his latest album at Avatar, tells the Times, “The number of studios shutting down is distressing in a city with such a celebrated musical history. I understand how hard it is to keep a studio afloat in these times when so many can now make do-it-yourself records inexpensively at home, but there’s nothing like a room with a history where the music seems to have been absorbed into the walls.”

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