They say they don't build 'em like they used
to, but this 21-story, red-brick apartment tower surely will give
passersby a good double-take for it is probably the closest thing
in appearance in decades to the proverbial "pre-war"
The Italian Renaissance palazzo-style design,
moreover, is by Costas Kondylis, one of the city's pre-eminent
architects of new and usually glitzy apartment towers.
Most such "palazzo"-style buildings,
of course, are quite boxy and this does have a couple of setbacks
above the 15th floor. It has a two-story stone base, a bandcourse
above the fifth floor and the top floors at each setback have
stone reveals. The red-brick pilasters between the third and fifth
floors and those on the setbacks have stone capitals and bases,
a nice touch. The building's entrance also has a large marquee.
The building, which opened in 2001, was developed
by Sidney Fetner Associates and The Gotham Organization, Inc.
The building has 38 apartments with formal
dining rooms, eat-in-kitchens, 9-foot-high ceilings, a doorman,
high-speed Internet access, and a six-foot whirlpool bath and
a washer-dryer unit in each apartment. It has an indoor-outdoor
children's playroom and terrace and a 24-hour, residents'-only
garage. Many of the apartments have views of the East River.
The building has no sidewalk landscaping but
Carl Schurz Park is diagonally across the avenue and many prestigious
private schools are nearby and a downtown entrance to the FDR
Drive is at 79th Street.
The building was created with five studio apartments
on the second floor that were available to apartment purchasers
in the building as maid's rooms and which became the focus of
a legal controversy that was written about in the July 2005 issue
of The Cooperator The Co-op & Condo Monthly by Hannah
Fons, the associate editor of the publication.
"Historically, co-op buildings have had
the market cornered on board-mandated restrictions, strict bylaws,
and procedural red tape, while condos have been more black-and-white:
co-op shareholders own shares, and condo owners own real estate.
Co-op residents wishing to sell their shares faced the greater
possibility of board interference in the sale process than condo
owners, whose boards typically exert only the right of first refusal
when it comes to who buys into the building....Thanks to a recent
court decision, however, that sharp dividing line between co-op
and condo may not be quite so sharp - and condo owners may find
themselves pondering new powers and the consequences of using
them. In a surprise decision rendered on May 31, 2005, the Appellate
Division, First Department (which covers both Manhattan and the
Bronx) ruled unanimously in favor of a Manhattan condo's right
to restrict how units within the building can be sold and leased....Questions
arose, however, because despite the developer's intention that
the five studios be reserved specifically for unit owners, nowhere
was that intention laid out as an official rule. There was no
specific prohibition against a unit owner with a studio selling
or renting out that studio to an outsider - an oversight that
one unit owner brought to the board's attention when he wished
to sell his studio unit, but keep his multi-bedroom unit. With
the demand for studio units far outstripping the building's modest
supply, it was no problem finding another unit owner happy to
purchase the seller's studio - the seller got rid of his studio,
and the buyer gained a much sought-after amenity. But the unofficial
nature of the 'studios for residents only' rule prompted the board
to present the unit owners with a proposal: to draft a new bylaw
specifically stipulating that studio units be sold or leased only
to current unit owners....Given the great demand for the studio
units, the board's proposed amendment easily passed among unit
owners by a super majority - but that wasn't the end of the story.
One unit owner - noted real estate developer Jules Demchick, whose
JD Carlisle Development Corporation's projects include the ultra-fashionable
Morton Square in Greenwich Village and the Penmark luxury rental
building in Midtown - objected to the board's move from the start
on the grounds that it constituted an 'unreasonable restraint
of alienation.' In a nutshell, the concept of restraint of alienation
holds that most - though not all - restrictions placed against
the transfer or sale of real property are not valid, because they
infringe on the fundamental right of an owner to sell, and because
there are certain rules against what's called perpetuity. In other
words, you can't generally sell someone a piece of property on
the condition that, should that purchaser later decide to sell
it, they could only sell it to members of a certain family, or
of a certain political persuasion....The lower court that heard
the case found in favor of Demchick, and ruled that the restriction
on sales and leasing of the building's studio apartments was not
reasonable. On appeal, however, the tables turned, much to the
surprise of many observers. The Appellate Division found that
in the interest of preserving 'building character,' a super majority
of condo unit owners could indeed vote to include more restrictive
bylaws governing sales and leasing of units - and the appeals
court overturned the trial court's earlier decision, reversing
the ruling for Demchick."
Carl Schurz Park is across the avenue and many
prestigious private schools are nearby and a downtown entrance
to the FDR Drive is at 79th Street.