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515 Park Avenue

Southeast corner at 60th Street

515 Park Avenue seen from the southwest

By Carter B. Horsley

The tallest residential building on Park Avenue, this slim, 43-story tower opened in 2000 and was developed by the Zeckendorf General Partnership and the Whitehall Real Estate Fund. has only 38 apartments.

Most of the apartments above the 15th floor have stunning vistas in many directions.

The building, whose quoins extend the full height of the tower, replaced a pre-war, Italian Renaissance-palazzo-style building designed by Ernest Greene in 1910 as a cooperative with 18 apartments that were subsequently subdivided into 24. That building was eventually acquired by the Jewish Agency that sought state permission to evict tenants including the Syrian Consultate and the Syrian Mission to the United Nations after which the agency, an umbrella organization, occupied the building along with the World Zionist Organization and the Weitzman Institute.

The building was designed by Frank Williams & Associates.

515 Park Avenue seen from the northwest

The limestone, cast stone and beige-brick tower is a Post-Modern design that seeks to carry on the avenue's predominantly Italian Renaissance-palazzo tradition, albeit here exploded to a huge scale.

Before World War II, only two towers broached the avenue's traditional cornice line height of about 15 stories: the Ritz Tower on the northeast corner at 57th Street and the Delmonico Hotel on the northwest corner at 59th Street.

When three other post-war high-rises of much inferior quality- 715, 900 and 1065 Park Avenue - in the 1970s there was considerable controversy over them and their possible deleterious impact on the famous boulevard. There was no similar outcry, however, about this project, perhaps because it is so close to the midtown business district and also because it is close to the Ritz Tower that for years was the avenue's tallest residential building.

515 Park Avenue from the south

This handsome, spindly tower, which seems taller than 43 stories because it has 10-foot-high ceilings, joins the Four Seasons Hotel nearby on 57th Street between Park and Madison Avenues in giving the district north of 57th Street a new skyline.

It is set back only on the north and west sides at the 15th, 33rd and 43rd floors resulting in what Robert A. M. Stern, David Fishman and Jacob Tilove described in their excellent book, "New York 2000, Architecture and Urbanism Between The Bicentennial And The Millennium" (The Monacelli Press, 2006), as an "awkward silhouette."

"The detailing was heavy-handed, with cast-stone corners, double-height pilasters below each setback, and two cast-stone-clad mechanical equipment enclosures set atop the building. In terms of sheer space, however," the authors continued, "the interior left little to be desired....The second floor provided ten suites for use as servants' quarters, and the basement held fifteen private climate-controlled wine cellars and thirty-eight storage rooms....But for all the luxury (and sales success), the building was deemed a poor addition to Park Avenue. Paul Goldberger found 515 Park to be 'particularly ungainly'" and he found its facade "a pretentious muddle."

A full-service building with many amenities, this building came onto the market with excellent timing as the demand for large luxury apartments in prime locations pushed prices to record highs in the late 1990s. Many of the apartments sold for $15 million and up.

Apartments have entrance foyers and twelve of the 38 apartments are duplexes. The building has a fitness center, wine cellars, and a dining room entered from the lobby that is available for catered affairs, and a residents' only library.

The Zeckendorf organization has been one of the city's major developers for many years and in recent decades pioneered the redevelopment of many areas with important projects at Union Square and on Eighth Avenue in Midtown and at 96th Street and Broadway. A few years after they completed this project, they built 15 Central Park West that was designed in Post-Modern style by Robert A. M. Stern.

515 Park Avenue entrance

Not too long after it opened for occupancy, some of the building's residents complained about mold in the building, but the issue faded away in not too long a time.

Despite its closeness to the Midtown Business District, the location of 515 Park Avenue is relatively quiet, but close to many famous stores, boutiques and restaurants. There is excellent public transportation nearby.

For more information about 515 Park Avenue check its entry at CityRealty.com

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