In Soho, Xoco 325 Puts History on Display

Posted on Wed, 10-21-2015

In 1896, Austrian immigrant Leo Hirshfield had an idea: a candy that was similar in taste to chocolate and also served as a cheaper alternative. Naming the candy after his daughter, the Tootsie Roll was created. The business started off in a small shop where Hirshfield would hand roll the candies himself, but the success of the chocolate-like candies, priced at a penny, created the need for a larger production space.

325 West Broadway would be that factory for 34 years, until the need for a larger space required a 1938 move to New Jersey.

But after years of sitting abandoned, the building’s transition to residential space closes in on its completion. To be officially known as Xoco 325 and developed by DDG, 325 Broadway is set to rise a total of nine stories (the original factory topped off at four), containing 21-units, with many of them including private balconies or terraces. With a max of four bedrooms, the biggest apartments are expected to be 4,837 sqft. The smallest, currently for sale along with three other apartments, is a total of 1,055 sqft and carries the least expensive price tag of $2,625,000.

Xoco 325’s current look has strayed away from what was originally planned. Purchased back in 2012 for around $39 million, the project, originally designed by Beyhan Karahan & Associates Architects, detailed a design exuding a more minimal exterior in comparison to DDG’s current design. There are some features that have stayed the same, like the planned conversion of two brick buildings on 32-35 Wooster Street, both of which are landmarked, and the landscaped courtyard that will link the new and old buildings in unity.

Its name may come off as odd, possibly with a sort of faux-trendiness attached to it, granted the building’s Soho location. But there’s truly nothing in the name that suggests a cheesiness or a need to fit the mold of Soho style. Xoco, (a shortened form of Xocolata, the Catalan word for chocolate), not only plays off of the building’s past as a chocolate factory, but the name may also allude to its architectural style as well.

The exoskeleton of Xoco, a cast-aluminum façade layered over a glass wall, has a hint of the Catalan Modernist designs by Antoni Gaudí. Notable structures like Casa Milà (La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló both have the boney design so recognized in world architecture.

(Locally, Casa Batlló fittingly carries the name of Casa dels ossos or House of Bones. The wall of Xoco’s upper deck, albeit with less color, also has some resemblance to the roof of Casa Batlló, which has been likened to the back of a dragon.)

The similarities between DDG’s design and Gaudí’s work may allude to some substance as to why the building’s name is in Catalan as opposed to a German or English translation of “chocolate”. The building’s façade spills into the courtyard, similar to the fluidity of exterior and interior spaces as found in Casa Milà and Casa Batlló.

But if the Gaudí theory isn’t entirely convincing, the design of Xoco 325 undeniably manages to salute the iconic cast iron façades of Soho’s architecture.

The interior possesses great simplicity that comes packaged with charm and coziness. The bathroom’s freestanding tub is enclosed between tiled floors and walls of blue, gray, and a milky white. The Austrian white oak plank floors flows from the living space and kitchen, and into the bedrooms.

Xoco 325’s interior is an absolute contrast to the exterior but there’s still a sense of uniformity, or at least a sense of story, that makes the eye-catching exterior flow with the tranquil interior.

Xoco 325, set for occupancy in 2016, takes on an interesting role in accommodating history. From its origins as the factory of a popular candy, to a Catalan architect that brightened the world, or architecture with a new aesthetic, DDG’s Xoco 325 ties it all together to fit comfortably into the mold of Soho.

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