It is only in the new Times Square of glitzy super-size 40 story buildings that the tall aluminum-and-gray glass tower planned for the south side of 42nd Street just off Seventh Avenue could seem small and modest, almost too tiny to attract notice. "Anywhere else this would be considered a big building”, said Marwan Dalloul, vice president of American Properties.
The company, controlled by a patient Lebanese family, bought property on the street more than two decades ago and waited for Times Square to turn around. The new 23 story building, to be known as 140 West 42nd Street, is to have 143,000 square feet of space for office and commercial use. It is down the street from the 48-story, 1.6 million-square-foot Condé Nast building, and across from the site of the 50-story, 2.1 million square foot Bank of America Building. The height of the new building was pared back at the request of the Landmarks Preservation Commission so that it would be a slightly shorter, modern echo of the Bush Tower, a narrow 29-story gothic building next door that is a city landmark and influenced a decade of skyscraper construction after it was completed in 1917. And with a landmark building on the other side as well, the former Knickerbocker Hotel, built in the French renaissance style with a mansard roof, the architect, Jordan Gruzen of Gruzen Samton, turned this to his advantage and designed a building that was more understated and less flashy than many other Times Square buildings. ''We tried not to be demonstrative, or to show off or be aggressive, but to do a softer building, to do justice to our landmarked neighbors,'' he said. ''It is finely detailed and is not going to disappear. It is going have a very quiet dignity.''
The new building site was assembled from three small lots to create a 75-foot-wide building, and development rights from nearby buildings were used to add more bulk. Mr. Dalloul said that demolition of a five-story building on part of the site would begin this fall, with construction to begin before year-end. He said the company was in talks with several major tenants but would go ahead and put together its financing and begin construction before any large leases were signed. Construction is to be completed by the fall of 2006, he said. The close coordination between the Bush Tower, also owned by Mr. Dalloul's group, and 140 West 42nd Street will also let tenants break through walls between the two buildings and create much larger floors.