In a very unexpected twist, The Real Deal has learned that the Chetrit Group is selling the Sony Building, scrapping its flashy plans to convert the office building’s upper floors to luxury condos designed by none other than Robert A.M. Stern. Olayan America, a division of the Saudi conglomerate Olayan Group, is in contract to purchase 550 Madison Avenue, partnering with European and Asian asset manager Chelsfield. According to the Post, they’ll pay between $1.4 and $1.5 billion, a profit of at least $300 million for Chetrit. In a statement, Olayan said they’ll lease space to “high-quality commercial tenants.”
Robert A.M. Stern
At the forefront of Midtown’s high-rise sierra, a new peak is emerging. Simply addressed 220 Central Park South, the two-winged development is being designed by celebrated historian and poet of the city’s skyline Robert A.M. Stern and developed by commercial and retail heavyweights Vornado Realty Trust. The tower portion of the complex has already ascended some 300 feet above street level and is noticeable from many parts of Central Park. Ultimately, it will stand 66 stories, 950 feet high, making it among the tallest residential buildings in the city. The exclusive, Central Park South-fronting wing, dubbed “The Villas” is up to the third of 17 stories and will be topped by a palatial quadplex penthouse.
Earlier this month, the tower’s warm limestone cladding was being applied to the lower mechanical floors, which will have 18- to 24-foot-high ceilings, boosting the building’s height by more than 100 feet and allowing nearly all its residences to possess Central Park views. To coincide with the construction work, Vornado recently published a collection of new renderings in a property portfolio, showing us for the first time several new looks at the project, including three full-scale views from Central Park and close-up looks at the base, porte-cochere, and an upper-level interior.
The Related Companies has launched the teaser website for its upcoming Tribeca condominium 70 Vestry Street. Related CEO Jeff Blau signed the purchase contract in December 2013 and closed on the six-parcel lot from Ponte Equities for $115.3 million in early 2014. Site excavation is already well underway, and new renderings of the Robert A.M. Stern-designed building have now surfaced. The project will pay homage to the neighborhood’s distinctive warehouse architecture, and in true Stern fashion, will be clad in sumptuous French limestone.
550 Madison rendering via Dbox
Curbed spotted the freshly launched teaser site for the Chetrit Group’s Sony Tower conversion, now going by the name 550 Madison, which revealed several new details about the project. The most notable is that Robert A.M. Stern will be designing the “opulent” condos, and we assume this includes the $150 million triplex penthouse. Interestingly, Stern was once a student of Philip Johnson, who is responsible for the ground-breaking Sony Building. In all, there will be 113 condo units on floors 21-43, up from the previously reported 96, as well as a 170-key luxury Parisian hotel and high-end ground-floor retail.
Robert A.M. Stern’s 220 Central Park South has been keeping us on our toes, from its $1.3 billion construction price tag to its $200+ million penthouse to its lightning fast sales (the building was one-third sold after just six weeks, and it’s now more than 50 percent sold even though listings for the 118 units have yet to go public). The latest head-spinner comes courtesy of The Real Deal, who reports that developer Vornado is spending $5,000 per square foot to build the Billionaires’ Row blockbuster. The actual land comes out to $1,500 per foot, with the remaining $3,500 per foot going to “hard, soft and financial costs.” The total sellout is close to $3 billion, and of the 59+ units that are in contract, 14 were pricier than $50 million.
Two years since its groundbreaking, Zeckendorf Development’s tower o’ opulence at 520 Park Avenue has finally emerged from its cavernous trench. Set for completion in 2018, the Billionaires’ Row building will climb 54 floors and 780 feet into the Manhattan skyline, becoming the tallest and likely the most prestigious building on the Upper East Side.
Envisioned by William Lie and Arthur Zeckendorf, 520 Park Avenue inherits the classically-inspired taste of the real estate dynasty’s prior projects. In the ’80s, their father William Zeckendorf Jr. erected some of the city’s largest post-modern apartment complexes such as Worldwide Plaza, Zeckendorf Towers, and the Park Belvedere. Here, the developers commissioned the esteemed architect/historian and dean of the Yale School of Architecture Robert A.M. Stern as the designer and SLCE as the architects of record. This team also collaborated together on 18 Gramercy Park South and 15 Central Park West, which shattered apartment records when it opened in 2008. Intent on replicating its west side counterpart’s success, the Zeckendorfs again gathered the now-not-so-secret ingredients: a powerful address, palatial apartments, and most importantly, the coveted Central Park view, all of which will culminate in a jaw-dropping $130 million penthouse.
Talk about a selling point: This apartment, located in the Upper East Side co-op building 820 Park Avenue, has been personally redesigned by starchitect Robert A.M. Stern. He is well known for his project on the other side of the park, 15 Central Park West, where he designed a condo reminiscent of the historic co-op towers along the park. Here, he’s taken a prewar co-op, which fills up the entire 12th floor, and added some modern luxury perks.
The apartment itself has an interesting history; it was originally configured as a triplex for the building’s owner, and was then owned by pharmaceutical giant Cheng Ching Wang, the late father of Vera Wang. Serena and David Steinberg (she’s the daughter of Houston-based real estate mogul Gerald Hines, who’s built projects designed by I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, and, of course, Robert A.M. Stern) purchased this floor for $6.5 million in 2008, pre-reno, and subsequently brought on Stern. After such a grand renovation, the owners started seeking a hefty profit back in 2013, originally listing it for $16.5 million. Now, after several price chops, it’s back for a much-reduced price of $9.5 million.
We first got wind of the potentially record-setting penthouse listing at 220 Central Park South back in March, when it was reported that the unit could sell for between $150 and $175 million. In June, sources said that a Qatari billionaire was looking to combine multiple apartments in the Robert A.M. Stern-designed building to create a $250 million mega-penthouse. Then last month, the Post speculated that another high-profile buyer was Ken Griffin, the billionaire hedge fun tycoon who is currently in the midst of a messy divorce from wife Anne Dias-Griffin (she’s asking for $1 million a month in child support). Now the paper reveals that it’s Griffin who’s looking to snatch up the $200 million+ penthouse in what’s being called the “billionaire’s bunker.”
Image courtesy of Desimone Engineering
Billionaire’s Row‘s race into the sky continues. Two of its biggest projected selling towers are beginning to rise out of their gargantuan foundations and are rushing to claim their piece of coveted Central Park-fronting airspace. Construction of Vornado’s 220 Central Park South development has an early lead against Extell Development’s significantly larger Central Park Tower (formerly Nordstrom Tower) across West 58th Street. The first level of concrete and re-bar are now poking up above street level and the elevator/stairway cores are now clearly visible to pedestrian passersby.
Starchitect Robert A.M. Stern certainly made headlines last week, with floorplans for two of his supertall billionaire’s row towers coming to light (520 Park Avenue and 220 Central Park South). And it’s these type of ground- and record-breaking urban projects that we’ve come to associate with the architect, who favors stately and classic buildings over the zig-zagging glass towers of his peers.
But long before the days of 15 Central Park West, Stern was beginning his architecture career with much humbler projects, like this Hamptons home, an unorthodox take on the shingle style that he completed just a few years after architecture school. The 3,000-square-foot, postmodern vacation house is on the market for $2.95 million, offering architecture buffs the chance to own a piece of history.