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Carter's View

Marketing has begun for the Cipriani Club Residences at 55 Wall Street, one of the major official city landmarks in Lower Manhattan.

The lower half of the building was designed by Isaiah Rogers in Greek Revival style and opened in 1842 as the Merchant Exchange and became home to the New York Stock Exchange until 1854 and then served as the Custom House from 1862 to 1907 when it was acquired by the National City Bank Corporation for its headquarters.

The bank, a predecessor firm of Citicorp, hired McKim, Mead & White to expand the building. The expansion added four floors and a second colonnade to its Wall Street facade. The building's enormous, 12,000-square-foot banking hall was designed in classical Roman style with a 60-foot-high ceiling. The building was designated a city landmark in 1965. President Bush delivered a speech in the opulent hall on corporate malfeasance and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg outlined his vision for Lower Manhattan there.

For several years, the bank had a huge and tall red lacquer free-standing wall, designed by Kenneth Walker, angled in the center of the banking hall that was a tellers' station.

The Cipriani family operated the hall and a restaurant before it the building was taken over in January, 2000 by Regent International Hotels to become the Regent New York hotel with 144 rooms and suites. The economic aftermath of the terrorist attacks September 11, 2001, however, led to the hotel being closed in January, 2004.

Giuseppe Cipriani's grandfather opened Harry's Bar in Venice in 1931 and it quickly became one of the most famous in the world. In a promotion letter received today by, Mr. Cirpriani, who is a partner in the development with the Witkoff Group, said that the "Cipriani Residences at 55 Wall Street marks the transformation of the Cipriani brand into a complete lifestyle."

"Within a magnificent, landmarked building on the most famous street in the world," he continued, "we've created exquisitely furnished and appointment apartments that reflect the aesthetic of our international customers."

The project will contain 106 apartments including 45 "club residences," or studios, 49 1-bedroom apartments, 8 2-bedroom apartments and 4 3-bedroom apartments.

Buyers of the apartments will be able to chose from three design styles for the full furnished units, down to linens, toasters and glassware: sleek, classic and eclectic. The apartments are being designed by Tsao & McKown.

A spokesman for the development said that the hotel's rooms had been gutted and that the apartments are new construction. Residents will have a spa, a wine cellar, shoeshine services, a barbershop, a billiards room, a screening room, and two years' membership in a private club. The building will also have valet parking and a library with a full-time librarian and "Cipriani butler service."

Prices, including the furnishings, are expected to range from about $700,000 to $3 million. Occupany is planned for this winter.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.
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