This almost-matched pair of townhouse apartment buildings at 316-318 East 77th Street on the Upper East Side is fronted by nondescript, fairly utilitarian facades, but the rear courtyard “rocks” an historic secret in the form of a massive chunk of Manhattan bedrock known as Lion’s Rock. In recent times the property was the site of a restaurant by the same name. The big boulder was part of the establishment’s rear garden, complete with water trickling from a spring that was a part of the old Saw Mill Creek. Lion’s Rock restaurant closed in the 1990s, but the rock remains (and probably will for the foreseeable future). But more interestingly, the rock is all that remains of a very different Manhattan.
The two well-maintained attached brownstones were built around the formidable rock wall in 1920. Before there were homes on the property, the boulder served as a community meeting place within Jones Wood, a 150-acre block of farmland that stretched between 65th to 75th Streets, Third Avenue and the East River; the area had even been considered for Manhattan’s great public park site. Today, the slab of red schist is our only reminder of the neighborhood’s verdant beginnings.
The two buildings are currently income-earning rental properties, including 15 market-rate apartments with leases that expire in 2017. The interiors are warm and cheerful with original pre-war details as well as modern upgrades. Many offer kitchens with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and updated cabinets and hardware.
The south-facing units overlook the wild and woolly rock wall and the north-facing units face lovely and elegant 77th Street. All apartments feature exposed brick, and most have either decorative or working fireplaces in addition to high ceilings, refinished hardwood floors and good light.
The buildings currently contain studios, one bedrooms and two bedrooms; eight apartments are duplexes–including one of the ground floor garden units. Future possibilities also include conversion to a condominium or to an impossibly grand single-family home.
The building at number 316 is 25 feet wide and totals 7,095 square feet; 318 is 21 feet wide and 5,912 square feet–a total of 13,007 square feet between them. There’s additional FAR, which means there is the potential to develop and add another two stories which could add an additional 6,000 square feet, quite the opportunity considering the Second Avenue Subway will be just a few blocks away.
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Images courtesy of Douglas Elliman.
Neighborhoods : Upper East Side