Efforts by some have been ongoing for several years to transform Manhattan’s Midtown East from an office district rife with flashy, stylish hotels into something more residential. Now, with the construction of 100 East 53rd Street, the neighborhood will get another character-changing building.
The 63-story tower, being developed by a team that includes RFR Holding, Hines, and the Chinese investors China Vanke and China Cinda Asset Management, is going up on the site of a former YWCA, where about 10 years ago, RFR and its partners planned to build an upscale hotel called the Shangri-La.
To build a taller tower, RFR transferred unused air rights from the nearby Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue. The hotel, which would have had more than 200 rooms and more than a dozen private condominiums, was to be designed by the British architect Norman Foster. That plan was derailed by the devastated global economy, and the project faced the threat of foreclosure.
Today, Aby J. Rosen, a founder and principal of RFR, said the developers are ready to go forward with 100 East 53rd Street, which will have 94 condominium units. The developers will use the original designs of Foster + Partners, and will continue to work with Mr. Foster on the project. Excavation began in early 2014, and builders have already poured concrete up to floors in the 40s. Mr. Rosen said he hoped to have the building, which will have mostly one- and two-bedroom apartments with prices starting at around $3.35 million, done in the spring of 2017. He said he never would have considered working with another architect on the building.
The new building’s amenities will include a fitness center, resident lounge and a lap pool. Credit DBOX
“We hired Norman a long time ago when we wanted to do this,” Mr. Rosen said. “I took Norman to the site, and he fell in love with it, sketched away, and within 10 minutes he had the design that he wanted.” Because the site is next to the Seagram Building, which was designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, Mr. Rosen said, “you need an architect with strong self-confidence — you really have to make it work next to one of the most important landmarks in America, so he understood that.”
The slender tower will have a 711-foot white undulating curtain wall designed to contrast with the dark bronzed look of the Seagram Building. The apartments will have high ceilings of around 10 to nearly 11 feet, according to Leonard Steinberg, the president of Compass, which will be marketing the building. “When it comes to a demand for residential in this neighborhood and this whole area, there’s been a whole resurgence,” he said. “On Park Avenue, on Fifth Avenue, people really live here, even on the weekend. So we decided, ‘Why don’t we do all of it residential?’ ”
The developers, though, plan to do something “really special” on the first four floors, Mr. Rosen said. Most likely, “the first two floors will be a high-end food court and a world class restaurant,” he said, declining to reveal more, except to say that it would be “neighborhood-transforming.” Many tenant amenities will be on the third and fourth floors. Building amenities will include a 24-hour doorman, keyed elevator access, a fitness center, yoga and ballet rooms, sauna and steam rooms, a 60-by-15-foot lap pool, a library and resident lounge.
The building will feature lofts on floors five through nine, and more traditional apartments on upper floors. One-bedrooms will range from 1,140 square feet to 1,815 square feet, two-bedrooms from 1,638 square feet to 4,607. Alcove lofts will be 1,034 square feet. “So a real variety of sizes, and that would automatically imply a nice variety of price points,” Mr. Rosen said.
There will also be three-bedrooms of 3,385 square feet and a four-bedroom penthouse of 6,760 square feet. Most units will be priced between $5 million and $14 million, with the penthouse to be listed for $65 million, he said. “The market is there for a certain type of buyer — one looking at one-bedrooms, or two bedrooms,” Mr. Rosen said. “We believe people want to have the best, but it doesn’t have to mean a three-, four- for five-bedroom pied-à-terre mind-set.”
Article published inNew York Times on Oct 26, 2015