An Upper West Side castle is for sale. A cool $30 million will secure the lucky bidder her or his own piece of Disney history.
The First Battery Armory at 56 West 66th Street (between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West) was built in 1901 and was “the seventh of ten armories built by the Armory Board, as part of a larger campaign to control rioting workers in industrial cities.” Though it never saw battle, the location was home to the New York State National Guard until 1913 and held stalls for 76 horses, a 50-yard rifle range, a 25-yard pistol range, and a central tower “for signaling purposes.”
The 102nd Medical Battalion fortified its stake in the neighborhood for the better part of the 20th Century before it moved out in 1973. The state subsequently gave the property to the city. Locals played tennis on the first floor courtesy of the Lincoln Plaza Racquet Club, and it also served as a neighborhood cultural center, known as the Double Image Theatre. In June 1976, ABC acquired the castle for only $800,000 to complement its existing complex on 66th and 67th Streets between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, according to the New York Times.
The Walt Disney Company announced its plans to buy ABC in 1995. The conglomerate maintained its dominant presence in the Lincoln Square area ever since, including ABC Studios adjacent to the armory on 66th Street, ABC’s Channel 7 Eyewitness News Studio on the corner of Columbus Avenue and West 66th Street, and the now-former Walt Disney/ABC broadcasting company at 125 West End Avenue.
However, whether any part of ABC/Disney’s nearly 50-year footprint will remain on the Upper West Side is unclear. The company is said to be consolidating all of its operations to “its new 1.3 million-square-foot building at 4 Hudson Square, which is nearing completion,” according to The Real Deal.
Though ESPN is stationed inside the castle amongst a high-end office interior that betrays it fortress-style exterior, the three-story, 43,000 square feet property can reportedly be delivered vacant and is reportedly “ideal for users for continued use as an office and broadcasting space or conversion to residences, townhome, event hall, social club, art gallery, non-profit/educational use, diplomat/government building, restaurant and other creative uses.”