Upper East Side rental to be razed and replaced with high-end condo from Eliot Spitzer


Rendering courtesy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission

An Upper East Side rental will be demolished and replaced with a new luxury condominium developed by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s firm. The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday approved plans from Spitzer Enterprises to raze the 25-story, 46-unit building at 985 Fifth Avenue and build a completely new tower with just 26 apartments. The commission concluded the existing building does not contribute to the cohesion of the Metropolitan Museum Historic District, allowing demolition to proceed. Designed by Studio Sofield and SLCE, the new condo building would rise 19 stories and feature a limestone facade with setbacks, according to The Real Deal.

Rendering courtesy of the Landmarks Preservation Commission

The design by Studio Sofield intends to incorporate prewar design in a modern way. The new building will be clad in limestone with stepbacks in stages, starting on the 13th floor and then again on the 18th and 19th floors, as well as the crown. Whimsical elements include a dog fountain and a sculpture of a squirrel with an acorn at the front entrance.

As CityRealty reports, the new building will likely target the highest end of the condo market since it’s the “only ground-up development on this section of Fifth Avenue.” Demolition is scheduled for next year with a completion date sometime in 2028.

The building is located within the Metropolitan Museum Historic District, an area of the Upper East Side bordering Central Park that highlights the progression of architectural styles and building types ranging from townhouses designed at the end of the 19th century to apartment buildings designed in the mid-20th century, according to the commission.

Left: Current 985 Fifth Avenue; Right: Proposed new building. Courtesy of LPC

The new structure will replace the existing 25-story building, which was designed by architects Wechsler & Schimenti and constructed from 1969 to 1970. The current structure, whose facade is marked by balconies, glass, and glazed brick, replaced three historic townhouses that were constructed around the turn of the 20th century.

The first of these townhouses, located at 985 Fifth Avenue, was designed by architect Charles F. Rose for Mrs. and Ms. Irving Brokaw, members of a wealthy New York family and national figure skating champions. The home was designed by Rose in the François I style and was one of two twin townhouses built for Brokaw’s sons.

The second home, which stood at 986 Fifth Avenue, was built from 1899 to 1901 for Simon H. Stern. The townhouse was designed by architect A.J. Manning in the Neo-Renaissance style, with architectural features like a limestone facade and a two-story curved bay.

The third home was also built from 1899 to 1901 for developers W.W. & T.M. Hall, who sold it to William B. Leeds. Designed by architectural firm Welch, Smith & Provot, the townhouse had a limestone and brick full-height swell-front, according to the presentation.

A number of LPC commissioners agreed that the existing building at 985 Fifth Avenue takes away from the cohesion of the historic district. The building’s design stands out from the many pre-war apartment buildings around it.

“The existing building is non-contributing and frankly, I’m pleased to see it come down. I think there’s not always an opportunity to do that, but given the kind of that it is, it’s possible. I also appreciate that the building is trying to fit in and make a contribution in some way,” Jeanne Lutfy, an LPC commissioner, said. “It’s clear that this is a building that’s speaking to the pre-wars around it and to the history around it but is also letting us know that respectively, this is a new building.”

But Lucie Levine, a spokesperson for the Historic Districts Council, expressed concern about demolishing the existing building, instead recommending work be done on the building’s exterior while leaving the interior untouched.

“HCC finds this proposal to be architecturally appropriate and an improvement over the current edifice. However, we question why the applicant needs to demolish the entire existing building,” Levine said.

“This a robust post-war structure that contains an immense amount of stored energy that should be added onto and not demolished. Given that the greenest buildings in the world are those that already exist, we see no compelling reason to take down one building and replace it with another.”


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