The Beatles transformed the popular music landscape back in the 1960s, and guitarist and vocalist John Lennon played a huge role in that revolution. In fact, Lennon went on to have a successful post-Beatles solo career, churning out a number of hit albums before his untimely death in 1980.
In fact, Dec. 8 marks the 40th anniversary of Lennon's murder. On Dec. 8, 1980, Lennon was returning to his Manhattan apartment, a building on West 72nd Street near Central Park known as The Dakota. It was outside the building that Lennon was gunned down by Mark David Chapman, a so-called Beatles fan who had clearly developed a dangerous obsession.
Since that moment, The Dakota has become a New York City landmark. Each year, countless Beatles fans flock to the Manhattan apartment building to celebrate Lennon's life, mourn his death, and rekindle their love of Beatlemania. But is that level of fame a good thing for The Dakota? What happens when a building suddenly becomes a tourist hub?
Overnight fame for buildings: a mixed bag
Interestingly enough, The Dakota was actually designated a New York City Landmark in 1969 -- well before John Lennon moved in, and over a decade prior to Lennon getting murdered outside it. In fact, Lennon wasn't the only celebrity to take up residence in The Dakota. Other well-known residents include famed actress Lauren Bacall, composer Leonard Bernstein, and football legend Joe Namath.
But it was Lennon's death that really put the building on the map, and now, it's a point of interest for the typical Beatles fan making a pilgrimage to New York City (that, and Strawberry Fields, an area in Central Park that was designated as a tribute to Lennon and named after the famous Beatles song).
The fact that so many Lennon fans visit the building each year is both a good and bad thing. The Dakota is operated as a co-op, so residents each own a share of it. But being a tourist attraction has its drawbacks. For one thing, extra foot traffic outside the building can be a turnoff. Residents who move to a building like The Dakota want their privacy and may struggle to get it. Tourists can also produce litter, making The Dakota's exterior unsightly.
And of course there's also the stigma of the building being the site where a beloved musician was murdered. Residents seeking to unload their co-op shares may struggle to move them off of the market.
On the other hand, the building's fame could, to some degree, work to its advantage. The property's value is apt to remain high due to its place in history, so that's a plus from an investing standpoint.
A takeaway for investors
Sometimes, a regular building can become famous when the right person moves in -- or, when tragedy strikes outside it. Anyone looking to invest in a famous building should proceed with caution, because that notoriety can be both a blessing and a curse. In fact, no matter who ultimately takes up residence in The Dakota, the building will always be associated with the incomparable John Lennon -- for better and for worse.