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21 East 96th Street

Northwest corner at Madison Avenue

21 East 96th street

21 East 96th Street from the southeast

By Carter B. Horsley

Construction began in 2004 without much fanfare on this elegant mid-rise building at one of the prime intersections in Carnegie Hill, just five blocks north on Madison Avenue of a similar project that was the center of a very protracted and contentious controversy.

The other project, located at 47 East 91st Street, was completed in 2004 after Woody Allen and other neighbors succeeding in forcing the developer to scale back his residential project from about 16 to 9 stories. They were successful, in part, because that site, the northeast corner of the avenue and 91st Street, was within an historic district under the purview of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. What was intriguing about the opponents' argument was that two of the other three corners at that intersection were taller than the proposed project.

At this location, only one of the other three corners is taller but so is the immediate adjoining building to the west. This site, moreover, is not in a historic district and this project has apparently not drawn any community protest, perhaps because it is much more attractive than the 91st Street project, and also perhaps because it fills in a highly visible gap along this nice stretch of 96th Street as well as helping lay the foundations of further gentrification above 96th Street.

An 11-story, red-brick structure with nice white trim around vertical pairs of windows, it has an attractive neo-Georgian-style design by Barry Rice and H. Thomas O'Hara that is highlighted by the very handsome rooftop watertank enclosure. In contrast, the 91st Street project made much of the fact that it featured an exposed rooftop watertank like many of its neighbors.

The building has a one-story limestone base with arched windows on 96th Street echoing the watertank enclosure's three arched windows facing Madison Avenue.

The building's massing is modulated by stringcourses at the fourth and 9th floors, setbacks at the 10th floor and an indented center fašade on the avenue.

Stewart Boesky and Jamison Weiner were the developers.

There is good cross-town bus service at this corner and a subway station is at Lexington Avenue and 96th Street. Central Park is less than a block away at Fifth Avenue where there is a playground. This neighborhood abounds in good private schools and many important cultural institutions.

Each apartment in this building is directly accessed from the elevator and has a grand entrance gallery and ceilings that about 10 feet high. The building has a 24-hour doorman and a lobby with white marble flooring in a herringbone pattern with Chamesson honed limestone border and a Doric column surrounded by limestone walls with bronze ornamental grillwork beneath a vaulted ceiling.

The building has video monitoring in elevator and common areas, a fitness center, a ground floor bicycle and pram room and individual storage units.

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