252 East 57th Street Tops Off Construction Ten Years After Innovative Public-Private Partnership
Soaring more than 700 feet into the Midtown East skyline, World Wide Group and Rose Associate’s 252 East 57th Street has officially topped out. Yes, it’s hard being a stand-out skyscraper in Manhattan these days; some 30 years ago, the tower would have been the highest apartment tower in the city, just besting Trump Tower and Olympic Tower on Fifth Avenue. Today, the 57-story building is the shortest and eastern-most of six super-towers underway along the southern periphery of Central Park that have been raising average building heights and asking prices to new levels.
Every New York skyscraper has a soap opera story to tell, and 252 East 57th is no different. The project site at the southwest corner of Second Avenue and 57th Street previously held the High School of Art & Design and PS 59 (The Beekman Hill International School), and was picked up by the World Wide Group in 2006 via a 75-year lease agreement with the city. Under an inventive public-private partnership with the Bloomberg administration, the developer would rebuild the two schools mid-block, at no cost to taxpayers, and then use the remaining air rights to construct a 490,000-square-foot residential tower on the eastern portion of the 1.5-acre site.
Construction of the first phase began in 2010 and called for an 11-story, boxy, black-and-white-colored school structure designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) and Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn (EE&K). The building’s lower floors would contain 170,000 square feet of retail space where Whole Foods is now a tenant. Along the lot’s eastern, Second Avenue frontage, SOM designed a 59-story crystalline tower that from some angles appeared to have an hourglass-like waistline. The developers shelved the design during the economic downturn.
Once the High School of Art and Design vacated their Second Avenue building and moved to their new digs, it allowed for phase two of the 925,000-square-foot development to move forward. A new design by Roger Duffy was unveiled in 2014 and is said to have drawn inspiration from the undulating Aalto Vase. If fully successful, the building would have been a strong counterpoint to 432 Park Avenue, Vinoly’s trash can-inspired tower. Rather, the concaves and convexes are so timid here that the form more resembles a lightly-creased brown paper bag.
The building’s distinguishing feature is an expanding progression of inverted bay windows that run along each of the buildings four elevations. Two sets of these “scoops” are juxtaposed with curvilinear balconies rising along the building’s north-west and south-east corners. Despite its monolithic appearance, the slab-shaped tower, clad in green glass with opaque horizontal spandrel bands, is impressive given its sheer scale and shimmering emerald skin that is still quite an anomaly within the masonry dominated East Side.
Interiors by Daniel Romualdez will feature Eggersmann Kitchens finished with white HanStone glass quartz countertops and backsplashes, Miele appliances, and walnut cabinetry. Baths have white Nanoglass walls with walnut vanities and white glasstops. Renters and buyers will each have their own separate sets of amenities. The Times recently reported that the developers have invested $1.8 million for a distributed antenna system (D.A.S.) comprised of some 470 antennas and more than 20,000 linear feet of coaxial cable to ensure residents paying $4.3 million and up for apartments will have uninterrupted wireless service. Purchasers will have access to two furnished guest suites, a screening room, billiards room, children’s room, music room, and a gated porte cochère leading to an automated parking garage. Additionally, the double-height 34th floor “club level” will feature a 75-foot swimming pool and European spa.
While the building is some four avenues away from Central Park, its mid to upper floors, which house the building’s 93 condominiums will provide wide-angle views of the urban oasis. Additionally, units have unobstructed views to the north, south and east towards the river and Queensboro Bridge due to its position over lower-scale Sutton Place and Turtle Bay. Below the condos, Rose Associates will manage 175-rental apartments.
View of Midtown East skyline from Long Island City. 252 East 57th Street on the far right. Image courtesy of javannsg’s Flickr photostream.
With a projected sellout of $782.9 million, residences are priced at $4.25 million and up, and so far have averaged around $2,800 per square foot. According to CityRealty, the 13 units currently available range from a $4.2 million, 1,700 square-foot, two-bedroom on the 42nd floor to a $19 million, 5,000-square-foot, five-bedroom on the 56th floor. The average price per square foot for condos in Midtown East stood at $1,699, up 8 percent since September last year.
252 East 57th Street is slated for occupancy in late 2016. Find listings and follow updates on 252 East 57th Street at CityRealty.
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