Carter B. Horsley
In the city’s “supertall” wars, the spoils don’t necessarily
go to the tallest, or most daring, or showiest, but the most attractive with
the best views.
For a while, it looked like this 950-foot-tall, 160-unit,
residential condominium tower at 220 Central Park South, one of architect
Robert A. M. Stern’s Post-Modern derivatives of his fabulously successful,
marketwise, 15 Central Park West, would garner the prize as the most alluring.
Based on early renderings, it promised to become the city’s
most nicely proportioned and elegantly finished residential Supertall.
In 2016, new renderings indicated, however, that the plans
had changed and that its symmetrical mid-rise setbacks were now replaced with
only a setback on the east side, balconies were put, in significant numbers, on
the tower’s park façade, and that its extremely handsome top was not only
rather clumsily altered but also duplicated in part lower down on the façade
interrupting the tower’s soaring grace.
While the bad news was that the new design fussily sullied
the tower’s marvelous elan, the good news is that its new asymmetry
complimented the even more drastic asymmetry of its immediately and much taller
neighbor across 58th Street, the 1,501-foot-high, cantilevered, Central Park Tower at 217 West 57th Street
that was being erected by Extell Development. That contextual gesture, however,
is likely to be lost in the shuffle between these two towers.
In the grander scheme of things, such trifling changes might
seem ignorable, but given the momentous spurt of supertall construction in the
neighborhood it may make a difference is “crowing” rights.
(It should also be noted that Stern stubbed his
architectural toe at about the same time in his plans to alter the annex to the
very great Art Deco tower at 1 Wall Street, whose fluted top was apparently a
stylistic influence on this tower, with a glass rooftop addition to the
limestone building and a new glassy retail replace to its once stately base.)
View from Columbus Circle
This limestone-clad, through-block, 65-story tower at 220
Central Park South looms significantly over its full-block neighbor at 15
Central Park West but its architectural vocabulary and style is quite
similar. Both developments have a
mid-rise building directly fronting on Central Park
and the taller tower setback. At 15 Central Park West, the tall tower is closer to
Broadway. At 220 Central
Park South, it fronts on 58th
Street but is not directly behind the shorter
structure but placed to its west allowing for the creation of a large and
Vornado Realty Trust, which built One Beacon Court on Lexington Avenue between 59th and 58th
Streets, is the developer of 220 Central Park
The Zeckendorfs built 15 Central Park West and have hired
Stern again for another supertall at 520 Park Avenue that is similar in design
to this project as is Stern’s design for Silverstein Properties at 30 Park
Place next to the Woolworth Building in Lower Manhattan that was erected before
Stern took up crayons. The 520 Park Avenue tower is considerably shorter and
much thinner on its east and west façades than 220 Central Park South whose
mid-rise “wing” holds the “building line” on Central Park South and has a very
large glass marquee in the project’s driveway.
View from roof of the Metropolitan Museum showing its mid-rise building
This handsome complex is not only across from Central Park but also a few steps from a Whole Foods
grocery to the west and a horse-and-buggy ride away from Bergdorf Goodman, and
an Apple store to the east.
The number of stories is getting much harder to discern from
afar these days and the latest count for this building, probably subject to
some jiggering, is only 65. The new crop
of supertalls aimed primarily at people of means and large appetites/floorplans
also make counting their ammunition/apartments difficult and here, again
probably subject to some revision, one would have visually calculated the
number of stories based on its height at about 100.
A through-block project, this development will have a
mid-rise “wing” that holds the “building line” on Central Park South and a
large, gated driveway on 58th Street that leads to a landscaped pool to the
north and a three-arched arcade entrance off the 115-foot-long “motor court” to
the tower to the west. The wing building
has a 54-foot-wide conservatory off the motor court that leads to its
55-by-45-foot lobby. The tower has a
40-foot-wide lobby across a staircase from a 32-foot-wide library.
The limestone-clad development is stylistically similar to
Stern’s plan for the Zeckendorf mid-block site at 520 Park Avenue but its tower
is much thinner on its east and west façades.
There are three floors of amenities in the tower building. The lowest level has a 95-foot-long swimming
pool next to a 60-foot-wide gym and smaller yoga studio and pilates stretch
room. This level also has a squash
court, a playroom, a 27-foot-wide “sport court, locker rooms and two spas. The top level has a 49-foot-wide dining room,
a 41-foot-wide club room and a 31-foot-wide private dining/board room. The building also has a garage, a concierge
and a doorman.
Duplex on the 50th and 51st floors contains 11,090 square
feet plus 695 square feet of terrace and 117 square feet of balcony. It has six bedrooms and eight bathrooms. On the lower floor, the double-height living
room is 39 feet long and is flanked by an open, 25-foot-long library with a
fireplace and an open 25-foot-long dining room that is adjoined by a
15-foot-long breakfast room next to the enclosed kitchen that opens onto a
large terrace with an outdoor kitchen.
The foyer leads directly to the living room and it is flanked by a long
galleries, one of which ends in a “sunset salon” with a small terrace and also
leads to a 19-foot-wide media room. The
upper floor has the other bedrooms and a long mezzanine with a staircase to the
Penthouse 73 is a five-bedroom duplex with 9,535 square feet
and 713 square feet of terraces with a 40-foot-wide, double-height living room
with a fireplace that connects with sliding rooms to a 22-foot-long dining room
next to a large enclosed, windowed kitchen and connects on the other side to a
21-foot-long library with a fireplace and a gallery that leads to a
28-foot-long media room. There are two
bedrooms on this level and four corner terraces and a staircase to the upper
Penthouse 76 is a duplex with 8,889 square feet and 710
square feet of terrace space with six bedrooms.
The 38-foot-wide living room has two fireplaces and is planked by the
enclosed 25-foot-wide dining room next to an enclosed and windowed kitchen with
a small terrace, and, on the other side, a 23-foot-wide library. This level also has a 28-foot-long media room
with a small terrace.
The simplex units on the 47th through the 49th floors have
6,591 square feet and 96 square feet of terraces and five bedrooms. It has a 42-foot-long living room with a
sliding door connection to a 22-foot-long dining room with a fireplace and a
three-sided balcony next to the large, enclosed and windowed kitchen as well as
a sliding door connection to a 16-foot-long library with a fireplace and a
Penthouse 16 in the smaller building has 5,884 square feet
on four floors with two bedrooms. The
lower level has a 25-foot-plong living room that opens onto, at one end, a
15-foot-long library with a fireplace and a small terrace and on the other end
a 16-foot-wide dining room with a terrace next to the enclosed and windowed
kitchen. The 17th floor has a
25-foot-long master bedroom with a small terrace. The 18th floor has a 25-foot-long
conservatory, a 16-foot-long study and a bedroom and very long terrace. The top floor has a 21-foot-long pool.
The seventh floor is a four-bedroom unit with 4,977 square
feet and 96 square feet of terraces with a 41-foot-long living/dining room with
a fireplace next to an enclosed kitchen/breakfast room with a small terrace and
a gallery that leads to a 16-foot-wide library.
Residence A on the 18th through the 20th floors is a
two-bedroom unit with a foyer and a gallery that lead to a 25-foot-long
living/.dining room next to a large windowed kitchen.
Residence B on the 18th through the 20th floors is a
one-bedroom unit with a very large foyer that leads to a 21-foot-long living
Residence F on the 18th through the 20th floors is a
503-square-foot studio with a 16-foot-wide living/dining/sleeping room.
The development of the 220 Central Park South site was not
One of the more dramatic “tug-of-war” stories between major New York City developers
focused on this site when Vornado Realty sparred with Extell Development here
even before the SuperTall race really began in earnest.
According to an October 15, 2013 article in The New York
Times by Charles V. Bagli, Gary Burnett, the head of Extell “bought the first
of a number of parcels for a high-rise project between 57th and 58th Street, near
Broadway” in June 2005.
Two months later, Vornado bought the rental building at 220
Central Park South from The Clarett Group that had planned to replace it with a
41-story tower that it hoped would capitalize on the new luxury high-rise
market created in the Columbus Circle area by the Time Warner Center, Trump
International Hotel and Tower and 15 Central Park West.
“Fearing that the Vornado tower would block the views of his
planned tower, Mr. Barnett sought a bargaining chip by quickly buying the lease
from the garage operator at 220 Central Park South and a small parcel on 58th
Street that sat in the middle of Mr. Roth’s planned development site,” Mr.
In October, 2013, Mr. Roth “blinked” and paid Extell $194
million to get control of the garage lease and complete his assemblage, which
was across 58th Street
from the larger assemblage that Extell Development had been working on that
included the Hard Rock Café. Extell had
already paid the Art Students League adjacent to its site for its unused air
rights and then made a second deal with the league to permit it to cantilever
over its building to improve some of its Central Park
vistas to the north.
In ending their statemate, Extell and Vornado agreed to
shift the siting of their proposed towers with Vornado moving its tower a bit
to the west and Extell moving its tower a bit to the east.
Extell, of course, started the SuperTall race with its
1,004-foot-high mixed-use tower design by Christian de Portzamparc with curved
tops and awnings at One57 across from Carnegie Hall on 57th Street one block to
the west and close to the city’s previous “tug-of-war” between Metropolitan
Tower and Carnegie Hill Tower on the south side of 57th Street on either side
of the narrow Russian Tea Room, which didn’t sell its air rights.
The 20-story apartment building at 220 Central Park South
formerly on this site was demolished by the Clarett Group, which planned to
replace it with a condominium tower designed by Pelli Clark Pelli, the firm
that designed One Beacon Court on Lexington Avenue and 59th Street, the Museum
of Modern Art tower on East 53rd Street and the World Financial Center at
Battery Park City.
The 20-story, light-gray brick building was erected in 1954
and was designed by Mayer & Whittlesley and M. Milton Glass. It had 124
Mayer & Whittlesley also designed 40 and 240 Central
Park South, which, like 220 Central Park
South, are through-block buildings that extend to 58th Street.
In their excellent book, "New York 1960 Architecture
and Urbanism Between The Second World War and The Bicentennial," (The
Monacelli Press, 1995), Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David Fishman
provide the following commentary about the 20-story building:
"Replacing three nineteenth-century rowhouses, and an
apartment building, all built by the Appleby family, number 220 had as its
immediate neighbor to the west Charles Buckham's Gainsborough Studios (1908),
one of the most distinguished examples of the 'artist's studio' apartment house
type that flourished before the first World War. Unfortunately, neither the
character of its neighbor nor the previous efforts of Mayer & Whittlesley
influenced the design. The twenty-story building had coarsely detailed rows of
double-hung aluminum windows set in white brick, corner balconies and a blocky elevator
penthouse; a similarly dismal building faced Fifty-eight Street and was
separated from its companion by a garden. The setback base of the building on
Central Park South compromised the street wall that was so critical to the
framing of the park."
The building had a two-step-down entrance, a revolving front
door, a concierge, protruding air-conditioners, a garage, and spiked sidewalk
landscaping. It was to the west of a fire engine company on 58th Street.
An article by Josh Barbanel in the May 19, 2006 edition of
The New York Times reported that 80 tenants in the building, “many with
spectacular park views, were notified yesterday that they could face eviction
proceedings so a developer can tear the building down.” “The announcement,” the
article continued, “set off a wave of anger, defiance and sadness among
tenants, many of whom have enjoyed below-market rents for many years under the
state's system of rent stabilization and were unaware that they were in
jeopardy. State officials said the demolition plan, if approved, would displace
more rent-regulated tenants than any other demolition in recent memory. And
real estate executives said the plan to demolish one postwar high-rise for a
bigger one was extraordinary, if not unique, in the annals of New York real estate.”
The article quoted Veronica W. Hackett, the managing partner
of The Clarett Group, as stating that Clarett was prepared to offer
"six-figure" settlements with the 47 rent-stabilized tenants and that
the remaining 34 or so market-rate tenants would be asked to leave when their
leases expire or possibly to remain on month to month until the plan is
completed. About 40 units are vacant.
A June 15, 2008 article in The Times by Mr. Barbanel noted
that 22 tenants in the building “won a small victory in State Supreme Court in Manhattan that could
eventually delay demolition of their building for a 41-story tower.” The ruling found that state law may require a
formal environmental review.
The new building Clarett planned to erect would have been
the tallest on the block.
The Clarett Group’s projects include the 55-story Sky House
condominium tower under construction at 11 West 29th Street, Place 57, which is
under construction at 207 East 57th Street, Chelsea House at 130 West 19th
Street, 2770 Broadway, the Montrose at 308 East 38th Street, the Post Toscana
at 389 East 89th Street and the Post Luminaria at 385 First Avenue.
Vornado Realty Trust and
the Clarett Group appear to have
reached a settlement with rent-stabilized tenants at 220 Central Park South that they
want to tear down and replace with a proposed
new condo tower, according to an article December 22, 2010 by Laura Kusisto at
and Clarett bought the 20-story rental apartment
building in 2005 for $131.5 million and have been trying to vacate it
can erect a 41-story residential condominium tower.
were originally offering tenants, including
Corcoran's Leighton Candler, $1 million to vacate the building," the
article said, adding that "now, according to city records, 15 such
holdouts, including Ms. Candler, have been bought out for between $1.3
and $1.56 million."
notable setbacks for landlords trying to
vanquish rent-stabilized tenants (see: Stuy Town),
the developer in this case has been winning legal battles, and now
closer to winning the war," the article continued.
light-gray brick building was erected in 1954 and was
designed by Mayer & Whittlesley and M. Milton Glass. It has 124
& Whittlesley also
designed 40 and 240 Central Park South, which, like 220 Central Park South, are
through-block buildings that extend to 58th Street.
their excellent book, "New York 1960 Architecture
and Urbanism Between The Second World War and The Bicentennial," (The
Monacelli Press, 1995), Robert A. M. Stern, Thomas Mellins and David
provide the following commentary about this building:
three nineteenth-century rowhouses, and an
apartment building, all built by the Appleby family, number 220 had as
immediate neighbor to the west Charles Buckham's Gainsborough Studios
one of the most distinguished examples of the 'artist's studio'
type that flourished before the first World War. Unfortunately, neither
character of its neighbor nor the previous efforts of Mayer &
influenced the design. The twenty-story building had coarsely detailed
rows of double-hung
aluminum windows set in white brick, corner balconies and a blocky
penthouse; a similarly dismal building faced Fifty-eight Street and was
separated from its companion by a garden. The setback base of the
Central Park South compromised the street wall that was so critical to
framing of the park."
building has a two-step-down entrance, a revolving front
door, a concierge, protruding air-conditioners, a garage, and spiked
landscaping. It is to the west of a fire engine company on 58th Street.
is very good public transportation nearby as well as
good local shopping. The Lincoln Center for
Arts is a few blocks away to the west and north. There is considerable
The views to the north are sensational.
November 12, 2009 article by Joey Arak at ny.curbed.com
noted that "over the summer a permit was filed to underpin the building
conjunction with a new adjacent project...Extell's project at 225 West
Street from architects Cetra/Ruddy," adding that SLCE is the
firm for Vornado and Clarett for 220 Central Park South.
article by Mr. Arak September 15, 2010 noted that
broker-blogger Andrew Fine observed that he had "counted what looked
at least 8 to 10 holdouts including one who is clearly having
parting with a lush, south-facing terrace."
An anonymous commenter at Mr. Fine's website,
afincompany.blogspot.com, November 30, 2010, said that "there are 24
rent-stabilized tenants that have been resisting the 'demolition
four and a half years now."
"They are not holdouts.
are tenants fighting to save their homes.
Many of them have been living in this building for over
30 years. Some are
quite elderly (70s and 80s)....The
rest of the tenants, perhaps another 15 units are month-to-month
are either employees, family, or associates of Vornado or Clarett."
April 7, 2009 article in The
New York Post by Steve
Cuozzo said that "the state Appellate Division - the same
recently clobbered Tishman Speyer by ruling that deregulating
apartments at Stuyvesant
Town and Peter
was illegal - just helped Vornado Realty Trust and Clarett Group get
out of a
pickle with their own tenant antagonists."
partnership, known as Madave
Properties SPE," the article continued, "had been stymied by two
different court cases before the same
judge in its quest to vacate 220 Central Park South in order to
demolish it and
replace it with a new apartment tower. But last week, the Appellate
unanimously reversed a lower-court ruling that could have indefinitely
the already behind-schedule razing of the 22-story rent-stabilized,
apartment building between Broadway and Columbus Circle....Under state
Division of Housing and Community Renewal may permit a landlord to deny
renewals to rent-stabilized tenants in buildings to be razed as long as
requirements are met. The developers began buying out tenants and
DHCR's blessing not to renew leases of those still at 220 CPS in May
the agency held off while an unrelated lawsuit involving DHCR and
applications at certain buildings owned by a different developer wended
through the courts. In that case, first heard by Manhattan Supreme
Paul G. Feinman, tenants claimed DHCR's rules did not adequately define
was meant by the word 'demolition' - and Feinman agreed with them.
'The Appellate Division
reversed Feinman last June, but the
delay had by then cost Vornado and Clarett a year. Then, during the
Feinman sided with 20-odd remaining tenants of 220 CPS in a suit they
2007, arguing that DHCR should produce an environmental impact
allowing Madave to deny lease renewals in preparation for demolition.
Although Feinman's ruling didn't require DHCR to get an EIS,
it would have allowed the tenants to continue pressing their claim to
agency do so - a process that could have delayed the project for years
more. The developers opposed the decision for
DHCR also took issue with it on the basis that the agency lacks
conduct an environmental impact study and that environmental review is
of its mission. But Madave, represented by
Rosenberg & Estis' Luise A.
Barrack, and the DHCR, repped in-house by Sandra A. Joseph, won on
week. The Appellate judges said DHCR's
discretion in granting a
non-renewal application is limited to matters specifically cited in
rent-stabilization law - such as whether a developer has the money to
demolition and whether it complies with rules regarding relocation and
compensation for stabilized tenants. Barrack called the decision "a ray
of hope for owners
and developers" of all rent-stabilized buildings staggered by the
appellate court's ruling last month against Tishman Speyer at
Stuyvesant Town -
a case that hung on interpreting J-51 tax-abatement rules -- and by
anti-destabilization bills pending in Albany....She
said DHCR is handling about 40 applications from
landlords seeking approval not to renew stabilized leases at locations
plan to raze and rebuild. The 220 CPS
tenants' lawyer, Jack Lester, said, 'The
issue is significant enough' for them to try persuading the Appellate
judges to let the case go to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest
- a step
rarely allowed when an Appellate ruling is unanimous, as it was in this